West Bromwich Albion breezed back to the top of the Championship with a comfortable win that heaped more misery on rock bottom Stoke.
Goals from Matt Phillips and Hal Robson-Kanu either side of half time extended Albion’s unbeaten run to five matches.
More importantly it moved the Baggies two points clear at the Championship summit at the end of a weekend in which four teams had taken a turn at the top.
Mangerless Stoke were poor and put the Baggies under next-to-no pressure, but that is of no concern to Slaven Bilic who can only keep ticking off the wins aware greater challenges lie ahead.
WEST BROM (4-2-3-1):
Gathered in Campbell’s early strike. Very little to do in the first half other than watch a Vokes header fly past his post and punch clear an inswinging free-kick. A virtual spectator secind half.
Got forward well and went close with a well-struck effort midway through the first half. Rarely troubled by Ward or Clucas. Neverly stopped over-lapping.
In cruise control for much it, a bit like his team. Put under next-to-no pressure by Stoke’s forward line.
Had his hands full with Vokes, but relished the aerial battle. No slouch on the ground either as he denied Clucas with a thunderous and expertly-timed tackle. Great concentration to thwart two Stoke attacks at the start of the second half.
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A first league start of the season, in place of the suspended Nathan Ferguson, Townsend allowed Campbell to cut in and release an early shot, but was relatively solid in the circumstances. The perfect game for such an introduction.
Ought to be known in the dressing room as ‘The Grandma’ the way he knits things together. Not at his absolute best, but never needed to be.
Livermore (c) 6.5
Had a hand in the opener with a nice ball into Diangana. Ill-discipline starting to rear its ugly head though. A fourth booking in five games means he’s on the brink of a one-match ban.
His sixth goal of the season gift-wrapped by Diangana. Dangerous almost every time he received the ball. Bamboozled Ward on one trick-laden attack. Good night’s work from a player who had many more gears to move into.
Accused of over-complicating things and trying to play too “sexy” against Charlton, he didn’t exactly heed his manager’s words. Tried to do too much on the ball. With his talent, you can sort of understand why. Subbed after an hour.
(Image: Getty Images)
Looked right up for it from the very first minute. Very nearly played in Austin before sliding in Phillips to open the scoring with an assist made to look oh so simple. Won the penalty that wrapped up the win.
Another nearly night for Austin. Can’t fault his work ethic, but the goals just aren’t coming. One wonders how long Bilic will persevere before trying someone else up top.
Krovinovic (for Pereira, 63) 6.5 Got Albion going forward a little more quickly. Played the ball into Diangana for the penalty.
Robson-Kanu (for Austin, 63) 7.5 Instant impact. Cool as ice the way he dispatched his penalty six minutes after coming on. Hit the post with a header and stung the keeper’s hands with a volley. Quite simply a menace.
Brunt (for Phillips, 82) 6 Kept Albion in possession during the closing stages.
Subs not used:
Bond, Hegazi, Edwards, Zohore.
Butland, Lindsay (McClean, 60), Carter-Vickers, Batth, Smith, Badou (Duffy 82), Ward, Allen, Clucas, Campbell (Ince, 74), Vokes.
Subs not used:
Federici, Collins, Ince, Powell, Hogan.
Albion – Phillips (8), Robson-Kanu (69)