EFL Reporter @simgholam
West Brom 0-1 Stoke: Tyrese Campbell nets early winner against Championship leaders
Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at The Hawthorns
Last Updated: 21/01/20 6:25am
West Brom missed the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship as they were beaten 1-0 at home by Stoke on Monday night.
Tyrese Campbell scored the only goal of the game at The Hawthorns after nine minutes for the vastly-improved Potters, who moved four points clear of the relegation zone with victory.
West Brom are still top but the defeat signalled a continuation of their alarming recent drop in form. It is just one win in eight games now for Slaven Bilic's side and a once vast lead over the chasing pack has been cut. A third loss of the season sees them stay a point ahead of Leeds in second, and five ahead of Fulham in third.
Stoke prevail at The Hawthorns
West Brom had been boosted before the game by the return to the side of influential winger Grady Diangana, but the West Ham loanee lasted less than three minutes after being forced off with injury.
Grady Diangana returned after a month out for West Brom, while Ahmed Hegazi started in their defence. Stoke boss Michael O'Neill made one change as Tom Ince replaced Sam Vokes.
It went from bad to worse for the Baggies just six minutes later, too. A swift Stoke counter-attack saw Nick Powell find Tom Ince, and he squared for Campbell to finish past Sam Johnstone. Campbell's night would also end with injury, however. The striker was forced off on 26 minutes with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
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And it could have been a nightmare for West Brom had referee Tim Robinson seen Matheus Pereira's elbow on Joe Allen after 35 minutes. If VAR was in use in the Championship the midfielder surely would have seen red.
West Brom came out in the second half with intent to attack but couldn't really lay a glove on Stoke, who had a great chance themselves to double the lead on the hour from another counter-attack. This time it was Allen who fed Lee Gregory - the man who replaced Campbell up top - but he could only shoot wide from a tight angle.
West Brom continued to attack as Bilic threw on Charlie Austin and Chris Brunt, but they failed to carve out a significant opportunity as Stoke held them off for an important win.
What the managers said...
West Brom's Slaven Bilic: "We had the highest amount of crosses in the season but we have to admit that we didn't have enough quality, and that the balls we were putting in weren't good enough. The guys gave everything but at the moment it's not working.
"It was a sloppy [goal to concede] from their first attack. It was a big blow, but still there was plenty of time for us to recover. But when you have so many crosses and shots, but only two on target, you can't expect to get something out of the game. It wasn't good enough."
Stoke's Michael O'Neill: "It was a fabulous result to come here against the team top of the league and win the game. We had to dig in. We started well and scored a good goal, but if we had taken care of the ball a bit better in the first half then maybe we would have had a few more opportunities.
"In the second half we knew we would have to defend, which we did, and I thought the back four and Jack Butland were fantastic. But equally I think we limited West Brom to not many chances, and that's down to the shape of the team and how we played. I think tonight we showed great character."
Man of the match: Danny Batth
There was a reason West Brom barely had a shot on target to test Jack Butland in the Stoke goal, and that was because of Batth. The defender was in imperious form on Monday night, heading, tackling and clearing everything that fell into his path.
West Brom have a tough trip to West Ham coming up in the FA Cup on Saturday, while Stoke host Swansea in the Championship. Both games kick off at 3pm.