Hull City suffered a fifth straight defeat as Karlan Grant’s solitary second-half strike secured victory for promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion.
Grant McCann made five changes to the team beaten by the same scoreline against another Midlands outfit, Coventry City, at the MKM Stadium.
Vice-captain Lewie Coyle replaced Josh Emmanuel at right-back and fit-again Alfie Jones came in for Manchester United loanee Di’Shon Bernard in the heart of defence.
Midfielder George Honeyman – back after illness – returned in place of Andy Cannon, while Josh Magennis and Mallik Wilks were deployed in the front three as Tom Eaves and George Moncur dropped out.
Valerien Ismael’s Baggies were looking to get their promotion bid back on track after a 3-0 defeat at top-two rivals Fulham and almost went ahead with their first attack on seven minutes.
Matt Phillips’ first-time shot from Callum Robinson’s low cross rolled against the base of the upright, with Grant’s close-range follow up blocked bravely by Matt Ingram at his near post.
Last-ditch defending from Jones and Coyle thwarted Robinson after good play from Taylor Gardner-Hickman – the forward seeing successive efforts blocked.
Jones’ return to the side, after four matches out, only lasted 17 minutes as the central defender was withdrawn through injury and replaced by Sean McLoughlin.
His centre-half partner Jacob Greaves glanced a towering header well wide from Honeyman’s corner as the spirited Tigers held their own against the high-flying hosts.
Albion’s threat was fleeting in a quiet first 45 – Phillips nodding one chance off target from Conor Townsend’s bouncing left-wing cross just past the half-hour.
An obdurate defensive effort from the visitors was epitomised by a vital hooked clearance from Callum Elder to prevent Phillips from reaching Townsend’s delivery.
The home support made their displeasure known at half-time but West Brom came out with greater purpose in the second half.
Substitute Adam Reach’s dangerous centre was turned wide by Robinson, under pressure from McLoughlin, and a couple of ambitious penalty appeals fell on deaf ears.
Albion enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure midway through the half as Robinson’s thumping 25-yard drive was beaten away by Ingram and Reach flashed a first-time centre across the six-yard box.
Grant then manufactured some room to hit a well-struck rising effort which required a smart fingertip stop from Ingram to flick over the bar.
The pressure was building and, after Docherty was caught in possession by Jake Livermore just outside the 18-yard box, Robinson squared for Grant to sweep home and give Albion a 69th-minute lead.
Hull City’s resistance had been broken but they came close to equalising when Honeyman’s free-kick was unintentionally diverted towards his own goal by ex-Tiger Livermore but home custodian Sam Johnstone palmed away.
McCann used his final two substitutes with 12 minutes remaining as Eaves and Ryan Longman – making his first appearance since September – came on for Magennis and Wilks.
Greaves flung himself in the way of Grant’s goalbound strike and the West Brom forward should have wrapped up the points as he ran clear before dragging wide.
The Tigers threw the kitchen sink at Albion in added time; Longman’s scuffed left-footed drive was saved comfortably by Johnstone and the same man had another effort blocked.
Keane Lewis-Potter surprisingly declined the chance to shoot when presented with a clear sight of goal six yards out, instead cushioning a volley back to Honeyman, whose strike was charged down.
The final whistle sounded not long after, leaving the Tigers to once again lick their wounds.
West Brom: Sam Johnstone; Cedric Kipre, Matthew Clarke, Kean Bryan (Adam Reach 40’); Taylor Gardner-Hickman, Jake Livermore ©, Robert Snodgrass, Conor Townsend; Matt Phillips (Jordan Hugill 63’), Callum Robinson (Grady Diangana 88’), Karlan Grant.
Subs not used: David Button, Semi Ajayi, Jayson Molumby, Caleb Taylor.
Hull City: Matt Ingram; Lewie Coyle, Alfie Jones (Sean McLoughlin 17’, Jacob Greaves, Callum Elder; Richie Smallwood ©, George Honeyman, Greg Docherty; Mallik Wilks (Ryan Longman 79’), Josh Magennis (Tom Eaves 79’), Keane Lewis-Potter.
Subs not used: Nathan Baxter, Josh Emmanuel, Andy Cannon, Tyler Smith.