West Brom caretaker Shan oversees third straight win

West Brom kept their automatic promotion hopes alive with a pulsating 3-2 Sky Bet Championship victory against Birmingham at The Hawthorns.

Albion twice trailed before Jake Livermore grabbed their winner 16 minutes from time to cut the gap to second-placed Sheffield United to four points, and hand City a fifth successive defeat.

Gary Gardner gave Birmingham the lead after seven minutes in City’s first game since they were deducted nine points for breaching the Football League’s financial guidelines.

Albion equalised for the first time through Dwight Gayle’s 17th goal of the season in the 47th minute before Lukas Jutkiewicz ended a four-month goal to regain the lead for the visitors 12 minutes later.

It was shortlived as Jay Rodriguez drew Albion level again five minutes later from the penalty spot before Livermore struck the matchwinner.

The points deduction has plunged Birmingham into a relegation battle, with this latest loss leaving them five points clear of the drop zone ahead of the weekend fixtures involving their rivals.

In contrast, Albion have won all three of their games under caretaker manager Jimmy Shan, with a play-off place almost certainly on the cards.

Yet it was Birmingham who made a dream start, forcing three corners in quick succession, and it was from the third of those that they grabbed the opener, with Gardner heading home Connor Mahoney’s delivery from 12 yards.

Birmingham remained the more threatening side, with Albion requiring a last-ditch block from Ahmed Hegazi to deny Che Adams and a Sam Johnstone save to a Jutkiewicz header to keep them in touch at the break.

After riding their luck, Albion cashed in immediately at the start of the second-half.

Birmingham full-back Kristian Pedersen gave away a free-kick when he pulled back Mason Holgate, allowing Albion captain Chris Brunt to provide a perfect delivery for Gayle to rise in a crowded goalmouth to steer a header just inside the near post.

If Albion thought they would take control, battling Birmingham had other ideas as they again struck from a corner.

Another Mahoney delivery picked out Jutkiewicz at the back post to score his 11th goal of the season and first in 22 games.

After falling behind again, Albion’s response was a lot swifter second time around.

After full-back Conor Townsend was brought down on the edge of the area by Mahoney, leading to referee David Webb pointing to the spot, Rodriguez comfortably converted the penalty.

With Albion now dominant, Livermore scored what proved to be the winner, letting fly with a low drive after Michael Morrison and Dean had failed to clear a Gayle cross.

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