The value of having Kevin Phillips on hand to turn a poor night into a successful one could not have been better illustrated as Albion shook off the disappointment of their FA Cup semi-final defeat by grabbing pole position in the Championship on goal difference last night.
Tony Mowbray's side came from behind with three goals inside the last 10 minutes after the 34-year-striker had stepped of the bench to steal the show. Phillips scored twice himself, once from the penalty spot, as Albion secured a flattering scoreline to dislodge Bristol City at the top.
Game Blackpool, beaten only once in eight games previously, led from the 35th minute through Ben Burgess' header. Albion, second best in the first half, did better after the break but only after Phillips was sent on with 24 minutes left did they look like a side with Premier League ambitions.
Phillips put Albion level after 81 minutes, his penalty going in off a post after Carl Hoefkens had been brought down by Stephen Crainey, then stunned the home side three minutes later, his composure standing out as he stole between two defenders to flick home Ishmael Miller's cross and claim his 24th goal of the season. Their tails up, Albion scored their third goal in the space of six minutes when Miller raced through a shellshocked Blackpool defence to drive the ball past Paul Rachubka for his 16th of the campaign.
Yet for much of the contest, manager Mowbray's decision to rotate his line-up after the Cup defeat by Portsmouth looked to have been the wrong one.
Blackpool could have had the points wrapped up by half-time. Burgess powered a header against the bar after 13 minutes and Stephen McPhee wasted a clear chance by shooting wide after 26, before the home side's pressure paid off in the 35th minute, Burgess moving well to meet Crainey's free-kick and head his ninth goal of the season.
Albion improved after the break but it was not until Phillips entered the fray that they were able to force the issue, leaving Blackpool still a win away from making themselves safe.
Blackpool (4-4-2): Rachubka; Barker, Evatt, Gorkss, Crainey; Hoolahan, Flynn (Southern, 86), Jorgensen, Taylor-Fletcher; McPhee (Dickov, 77), Burgess (Holt, 86). Substitutes not used: Flinders (gk), Coid.
West Bromwich Albion (4-1-3-2): Kiely; Hoefkens, Albrechtsen (Barnett, 28), Clement, Robinson; Pele (Morrison, h-t); Brunt (Phillips, 66), Greening, Koren; Miller, Moore. Substitutes not used: Bednar, Kim Do-Heon.
Referee: J Moss (West Yorkshire).
* A thrilling Sheffield derby ended 2-2 at Bramall Lane last night. Adam Bolder struck twice for Wednesday before Richard Wood's own goal brought United back into it. James Beattie equalised for the Blades with a stunning late free kick with five minutes to go.Reuse content