JOHN Hartson enjoyed a dream Albion debut as his 200th and 201st career goals got his new club's Coca-Cola Championship campaign off to a winning start.
The summer capture from Celtic opened his Baggies account with a sublime 57th-minute strike.
Then he set off in pursuit of goal number 300 with a clinical injury-time second which sealed the points.
Albion started like a house on fire and could have put the game to bed in
the opening 20 minutes but failed to convert a string of chances.
The hosts were almost made to pay when Hull created several opportunities
themselves immediately before and after the half-time interval.
But Hartson calmed Albion's nerves with his milestone opening goal.
The powerhouse striker wasn't the only debutant to catch the eye. Free
transfer Chris Perry was a rock at the back and made several vital
interceptions to help fellow new boy Pascal Zuberbuhler kick off his Baggies
career with a clean sheet.
Boss Bryan Robson started with the same 16 which ended the club's pre-season
programme with a goalless draw against Real Sociedad six days ago.
Hull also had plenty of new faces in their starting line-up, with Michael
Turner, Sam Ricketts and Dean Marney also making their debuts.
Albion exploded out of the blocks and could have taken the lead inside 70
Zoltan Gera put the Hull defence squarely on the back foot, leaving a trail
of Tigers defenders in his wake on a storming right-wing run. Gera's low
cross was back-heeled by Nathan Ellington to the unmarked Jonathan Greening
15 yards out and only centre-half Turner's last-ditch block kept out the
winger's first-time drive.
Albion had another glorious chance less than two minutes later when Greening
found Gera with a terrific left-wing centre.
But the unmarked Hungary star headed straight at Tigers keeper Boaz Myhill
who saved at point-blank range.
Albion continued to press and Hull's goal again lived a charmed life in the
Gera found Greening with a pinpoint far-post cross and Myhill pulled off a
stunning reflex save to push the former Boro man's downward header onto the
Just 60 seconds later, the unmarked Gera failed to polish off another great
chance when he volleyed high into the Smethwick End from 12 yards from
another terrific centre, this time from the over-lapping Paul Robinson.
The chances kept coming and in the 20th minute, Hartson was only a whisker
away with a diving header which flew just over the bar from Gera's centre.
It had been as impressive an opening to a game that the home hordes had seen
for some time and Ellington was the next to try his luck, shooting straight
at Myhill with a 20-yard free-kick.
But it was Hull's turn to be wasteful in the 25th minute.
New boy Marney headed Jon Parkin's flick-on past skipper Curtis Davies and
surged into the box but, with only 'Zubi' to beat, he dragged his shot
tamely wide from eight yards.
The Albion No.1 had to make his first real save in the 35th minute, showing
a safe pair of hands to hold onto Hull skipper Damien Delaney's 30-yard
Moments later, Zuberbuhler dealt with John Welsh's long-range drive in
equally comfortable fashion.
Back came Albion and Turner had to produce another vital block on the edge
of his own six-yard box to keep out Steve Watson's goalbound effort after
Hull had struggled to clear a Greening centre.
But it was Albion who were the next team to enjoy a lucky escape when Hull
substitute Ryan France failed to hit the target with a free header from
There was still time for Ellington and Marney to exchange 20-yard drives,
with both efforts flying straight at the respective keepers.
Albion had an incredible - not to mention bizarre - let off three minutes
after the break.
Sam Ricketts' in-swinging cross caught everyone out - including
Zuberbuhler - when it cannoned off the near post and flew straight to Marney
12 yards out.
The former Tottenham midfielder's instinctive prod goalwards was blocked by
Davies inside the six-yard box and the England Under-21 international
cleared in the nick of time before Marney could pounce again.
Hull were now enjoying a real purple patch and Darryl Duffy really should
have fired the Humbersiders ahead in the 52nd minute. The Tigers striker
headed over the bar from inside the six-yard box after Turner had nodded
Craig Fagan's deep centre across the face of goal.
Albion had struggled to get out of their own half since the break - yet it
was the home fans who were celebrating in the 57th minute.
Hartson used all of his brute force to spin Delaney on the edge of the Hull
box from Nigel Quashie's lofted ball forward before coolly lobbing Myhill
from 15 yards.
The action swung straight to the other end and Duffy spurned another
Myhill's long punt forward caught the home defence flat-footed and the
ex-Falkirk hitman brought the ball down brilliantly on the edge of the
Baggies box, only to fire over with just Zuberbuhler to beat.
Hull voiced loud penalty appeals in the dying minutes when Welsh claimed he
had been fouled at the far post when challenging with sub Junichi Inamoto
for a deep cross.
But referee Lee Probert waved the protests away.
That proved Hull's last opportunity before, four minutes into stoppage time,
an Albion break down the right was halted by a foul.
Ellington acted quickly to get the ball moving again, finding Quashie in the
middle who advanced on goal before sliding the ball into Hartson's path in
the inside left channel.
The big Welshman clinically slotted past Myhill and into the far corner to
seal the win.
ALBION (4-4-2): Zuberbuhler; Watson, C Davies, Perry, Robinson; Gera (Carter
78), Wallwork (Inamoto 87), Quashie, Greening (Albrechtsen 90+3); Hartson,
Ellington. Subs not used: Kuszczak (gk), Chaplow.
HULL (4-4-2): Myhill; Ricketts, Turner, Delaney, Dawson; Fagan, Marney,
Welsh, Elliott (France 29); Parkin (Burgess 68), Duffy (Andrews 77). Subs
not used: Duke (gk), Thelwell.
GOALS: ALBION - Hartson (57 & 90+4).
BOOKINGS: ALBION - Greening (dissent 88). HULL - Marney (foul 22), Welsh
REFEREE: L Probert (Gloucestershire).
ALBION STARMAN: Chris Perry.