Championship football returned this weekend with some of its highly competitive fixtures that included the Hawthorns tie where the hosts West Bromwich Albion welcomed Stoke City on Saturday afternoon. Both of them have been demoted to the second tier upon relegation from Premier League last season but found it hard so far to settle in new surroundings. Darren Moore, the Baggies boss, suffered a late heartbreak against Middlesbrough last weekend when Daniel Ayala scored the solitary goal of the game to seal a victory but grabbed a massive result
West Brom were the more dominant force and kept on creating chances against the struggling Potters. Chris Brunt and Ahmed Hegazy came close but it was Dwight Gayle who stole the show. The Newcastle United loanee bagged goals in either of the halves and left the visitors in limbo while grabbing a hard-fought but commanding 2-1 home win to boost their promotion hopes.
West Brom Player Ratings:
Sam Johnstone: 7/10
Was lucky not to concede a silly goal as James McClean closed down his clearance midway through the first half which, however, sailed just over the crossbar. Was lucky to see Benik Afobe hitting the woodwork from the spot and could have done little to deny Erik Pieters’ late consolation strike. Made some routine stops otherwise and was also confident while coming out of goal to gather the ball.
Craig Dawson: 6.5/10
Started in the right-hand side of the Baggies ‘back three’. Won some duels, lost a few but made some decisive clearances to avoid danger in the first place.
Ahmed Hegazy: 7.5/10
Nodded just wide midway through the first half as he should have converted the free-kick. But the Egyptian was spot on defensively with both aerial as well as physical supremacy against the height of Peter Crouch and a power-packed presence of Benik Afobe who was introduced later on.
Kyle Bartley: 8/10
Saw his goal ruled out late in the first half for using his arm but had a towering display in West Brom’s three-man backline. Won 10 duels, succeeded thrice with his tackling and also made some no-nonsense clearances to get rid of trouble.
Matt Phillips: 7/10
Was a persistent threat from his right wingback role as he kept on whipping in crosses, making runs forward and also provided defensive cover late in the game when the Potters were pushing hard to salvage something from the fixture.
Jake Livermore: 7/10
Assisted Gayle spectacularly to double the lead, dominate the midfield game but was lucky not to receive a marching order as he denied a goal scoring opportunity with his arm that resulted in a spot-kick.
Chris Brunt: 7.5/10
Had a strong presence in the middle of the park. Forced Jack Butland to make a smart reaction save to deny his effort from outside the box. Was combative and did not allow the likes of Joe Allen and Oghenekaro Etebo to take control of the flow.
Kieran Gibbs: 8/10
Assisted Gayle for his stunning first-half goal and won all seven duels he encountered this afternoon. Had a composed display down the left-flank and also did well to contain Mame Biram Diouf who was handed a role to use the width of the pitch.
Harvey Barnes: 7.5/10
The young Leicester City loanee has been a revelation so far for the Baggies and he continued his promising display with relentless runs, impressive passing and shooting traits and also created chances from just behind their striking duo. Was replaced by Gareth Barry in the closing minutes of the game.
Jay Rodriguez: 6/10
Was not his day as he was clean through on goal but failed to hit the target early in the second half. Combined well with Gayle high up the pitch as the Magpies loanee was on fire at Hawthorns this afternoon.
Dwight Gayle: 9/10
Did exceptionally well to fool Cuco Martina and Ryan Shawcross with his touch and beat past Butland to earn an early lead. He displayed his great poaching instinct while picking up Livermore’s delivery and slotting it calmly to earn a 2-0 lead. Was replaced by Hal Robson-Kanu with around 20 minutes remaining of regulation time.
Hal Robson-Kanu: 5
Did not see the ball much as the visitors were pushing hard to stage a late resurgence.
Gareth Barry: NA
Played too little to warrant a rating.