West Brom east past Stoke
West Bromwich Albion returned to the top of the Championship table on Monday night as they brushed aside Stoke City, who are still without a manager.
On-loan player Grady Diangana was the key man for West Brom, while Matt Phillips and Hal Robson-Kanu got the goals to ensure that the visitors leapfrogged Preston in the table.
The Baggies were the clear favourites with sports betting companies going into the game, and although some Stoke fans might have hoped that the dismissal of Nathan Jones would lead to an improved performance from their side, they were soon disappointed.
Just eight minutes had elapsed in the game when their static defence was opened up by a neat exchange of passes between Diangana and Jake Livermore, and the Stoke defenders could only look on as Phillips arrived at the far post to fire home and register his sixth goal of the season.
That early goal dampened whatever expectations the home fans came into the game with, and the remainder of the first half produced very little goalmouth action, though Stoke did at least keep things competitive, thanks largely to the efforts of Joe Allen.
However, on 69 minutes, West Brom sealed the points when a pass by Phillips into the penalty area set up Diangana, who was then brought down by Cameron Carter-Vickers, the defender currently on loan from Spurs, conceding a blatant penalty.
Diangana had to receive treatment after the incident, which delayed the penalty taking, but Robson-Kanu kept his composure and beat Jack Butland with the spot kick.
Robson-Kanu almost had a second goal straight after the penalty but headed against the post, while Butland also denied him another goal with an acrobatic late save.
While the win takes West Brom back to the summit of the second tier, Stoke’s defeat leaves them in significant trouble at the bottom of the table, six points adrift of safety following a run of three losses.
While there was no shame in losing to the current Championship leaders, the club seems to be in a dire state, with both fans and players appearing resigned to further defeats.
Speaking after the game, caretaker manager Rory Delap said that what was happening at the club was sad to see – he described it as “heartbreaking” to see an empty ground at the end, but added that he could understand the fans walking out.
Words: Josh Dixon