Dwight Gayle header earns West Brom victory at Stoke
Dwight Gayle secured West Brom a vital 1-0 win at Stoke to move them fourth in the Sky Bet Championship and firmly in the promotion picture.
Gayle opened the scoring for Darren Moore’s side midway through the first half at the bet365 Stadium, heading in Ahmed Hegazi’s cross following a well-worked set-piece.
Both sides had early chances, with Peter Etebo skewing an effort off target for Stoke, while Jacob Murphy narrowly lifted a drive over the crossbar. Albion took the lead in the 25th minute. Stefan Johansen’s free-kick from a central position found an unmarked Hegazi on the left side of the box.
He volleyed a pass across goal for Gayle to send a close-range header past Potters goalkeeper Jack Butland. Kieran Gibbs tried his luck from distance for the buoyant Baggies but bent his low left-footed strike wide of Butland’s right-hand post. Searching for a route back into the game after the break, the hosts’ frustrations grew when former West Brom winger James McClean saw an attempt charged down before Joe Allen fizzed a low cross into the box from the right that just evaded his Wales international team-mate Sam Vokes.
Nathan Jones’ men pushed for an equaliser as the clock ticked down and Tom Ince should have done better with his finish after running with the ball from his own half, beating three Albion defenders but dragging a shot away from goal when well-positioned.
At the other end, West Brom broke on the counter-attack with the ball finding midfielder Johansen on the left of the box and he sent a shot across goal with his left foot, but his low attempt was pushed away by Butland.
Striker Jay Rodriguez was next to go close for West Brom, with his daisy-cutter from outside of the box failing to test Butland. Midfielder Ince wasted a free-kick from a threatening position with seven minutes left to play, lifting the set-piece over Sam Johnstone’s crossbar.
Striker Vokes, a January recruit from Burnley, then glanced wide from Tom Edwards’ deep cross from the right flank. Pushing for a late leveller to salvage a point, Stoke threw everything at Albion but goalkeeper Johnstone and his back-line remained resilient in the closing stages. West Brom move to within four points of the Championship‘s top two, while out-of-form Stoke are 17th in the table.