Dwight Gayle hit a brace at the Hawthorns as Darren Moore’s West Brom piled the pressure on Gary Rowett. Stoke City came into this game following back to back league and cup wins and would’ve been hoping that their season had finally taken off. However, the Potters fell to a 2-1 scoreline, which in all honesty, flattered them as Moore’s Albion were the much better side.
Dwight Gayle Piles Pressure on Gary Rowett
West Brom were up for this one and came out swinging, the Baggies peppered the Stoke goal in the opening ten minutes but were unable to hit the target. That is until on-loan striker Dwight Gayle put them ahead in sublime fashion. Kieran Gibbs picked up the ball and drove at the Stoke City defence, found Gayle who brought the ball under control whilst brilliantly spinning away from defenders. He put England goalkeeper Jack Butland onto his backside before casually rounding the stricken keeper and slotting into the empty net.
Gayle doubled Albion’s lead just before the hour mark with what would ultimately be the decisive goal. Central midfielder Jake Livermore picked up the ball on the halfway line and curled an inch-perfect ball over the top for Gayle to run onto. The striker killed it dead with his left foot before slotting it past Butland at his near post with his right.
Despite being the better side, West Brom gifted Stoke City chances by defending far too casually at times. Having been recognised as a team that is solid at the back but with few goals during their Premier League run, the Baggies have strengthened their attacking prowess but in doing so have seemingly lost their strength at the back.
Albion’s casual approach to defending almost cost them twice in the first half. Firstly, former West Brom man James McLean nearly capitalised on current Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone’s hesitation. Johnstone’s clearance quickly closed down by the on-rushing Irishman only for the ball to bounce over the crossbar. The young shot-stopper would again play his team into trouble as his attempted dink pass into midfield was picked off, but again it came to nothing.
Still No Clean Sheet
West Brom are still without a clean sheet in the league this season following Erik Pieters’ consolation goal deep into injury time. Although Stoke could’ve got themselves back into the game with 20 minutes to go after Jake Livermore handled the ball in the penalty area, Benik Afobe’s spot-kick sent Albion keeper Johnstone the wrong way but hit the crossbar.
Pieters’ 25-yard strike in the 95th minute was a wonderfully hit strike which found the top corner. Albion’s first clean sheet was gone but to a mere consolation and, in truth, Stoke deserved nothing more from the game. West Brom were the better side, Jake Livermore controlled the midfield whilst Craig Dawson’s inclusion helped sure up the back line somewhat, but still a long way to go in that regard.
”We set the right tempo and we did what we worked on doing in training. Our ability to manage the ball in large periods of the game meant we had a lot of control.
”Being a former defender I’d have liked the clean sheet, but I can’t let that detract from a good afternoon’s work shown by the players today.
”They were stellar finishes [by Gayle]. That’s the prowess that Dwight has and he’s building a nice relationship and understanding with Jay Rodriguez.” – said Moore.
“Today probably sums up our first six games of the season to be honest.
”We are clearly a good side with good individuals, but we are being a little bit dopey and it’s costing us dearly at the minute.
”Silly mistakes are impacting the games, because once again I don’t think that, for as good a side as West Brom are, they carved us open with great play too many times.” – said Rowett.