Championship
West Brom4Preston1

West Bromwich Albion 4-1 Preston North End: Dwight Gayle hits a hat-trick in thumping Baggies win

Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring for West Brom
Dwight Gayle has now scored 21 goals in the Championship this season

Preston manager Alex Neil blamed speculation linking him with the vacant West Bromwich Albion managerial role for his side's heavy defeat at The Hawthorns.

Dwight Gayle's hat-trick all but ended Preston's fading top-six hopes as the Baggies inflicted a fourth-straight defeat on North End to solidify their own play-off position.

The victory was Albion caretaker James Shan's fourth in six games in charge but Neil continues to be linked with the job and says the rumours affected his players.

Neil said: "I thought that it [the speculation] got to the players. I could see it in their eyes before the match.

"It has affected them and it has affected the day for the fans, which I apologise for.

"I feel as if I have ruined the day for the supporters. People write what they want and then it grows arms and legs."

With Albion virtually assured of a play-off place - nine points above seventh-placed Middlesbrough with four games remaining - they must decide whether to stick with Shan or appoint a new man.

And Neil, who achieved promotion to the Premier League through the play-offs with Norwich City in 2015, called for an end to the uncertainty.

He added: "It needs to be brought to a conclusion. There has been no approach to Preston. So there is nothing to say. There is nothing for me to hide.

"When you've got a decision to make, then you are in control. There is no decision to make.

"I would imagine something would take place over the next couple of days and then whatever will happen will happen at that point."

Gayle opened the scoring for the hosts, volleying Chris Brunt's cross beyond Preston keeper Declan Rudd before quickly doubling his tally by finding the far corner from the edge of the area.

Jay Rodriguez added a third just before half-time from close range and Gayle completed his treble with a fine finish in the second half.

Callum Robinson scored a late consolation goal for Preston but defeat left them 12th, still eight points adrift of sixth-placed Bristol City.

Their margin of defeat could have been wider but Rudd saved efforts from Stefan Johansen and Rodriguez in the opening 20 minutes.

After Gayle notched his hat-trick with Rodriguez striking in between, the returning Matt Phillips nearly added a fifth for Albion when he forced Rudd into a good save late on.

West Bromwich Albion caretaker manager James Shan on job speculation and performance:

"They [the club] have asked me to look after first-team affairs until further notice and that is where we sit and where I am now.

"After two negative results I was delighted with the performance, the four goals scored and most importantly the three points.

"They (Gayle and Rodriguez) are both fighting it out to be our top goalscorer. I thought that to get our two highest scorers on the pitch was really important.

"Knowing the pair of them, the way that are around the training ground and how competitive they are, being level pegging, it can only bode well for the football club in our remaining fixtures."

Line-ups

West Brom

  • 1Johnstone
  • 25DawsonBooked at 90mins
  • 26HegaziSubstituted forAdarabioyoat 52'minutes
  • 5Bartley
  • 68Holgate
  • 8LivermoreBooked at 57minsSubstituted forPhillipsat 70'minutes
  • 11Brunt
  • 6Johansen
  • 3GibbsSubstituted forTownsendat 61'minutes
  • 19Rodriguez
  • 16Gayle

Substitutes

  • 4Robson-Kanu
  • 10Phillips
  • 14Townsend
  • 23Bond
  • 24Adarabioyo
  • 34Harper
  • 70Murphy

Preston

  • 1Rudd
  • 2FisherBooked at 74mins
  • 14Storey
  • 6Davies
  • 3Earl
  • 18Ledson
  • 45Nmecha
  • 8BrowneSubstituted forGinnellyat 87'minutes
  • 11Johnson
  • 12GallagherSubstituted forRobinsonat 42'minutes
  • 20StockleySubstituted forMaguireat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Robinson
  • 9Moult
  • 13Crowe
  • 15Rafferty
  • 17Ginnelly
  • 23Huntington
  • 24Maguire
Referee:
Roger East
Attendance:
25,088

Match Stats

Home TeamWest BromAway TeamPreston
Possession
Home41%
Away59%
Shots
Home23
Away10
Shots on Target
Home10
Away2
Corners
Home9
Away6
Fouls
Home8
Away6

Live Text

Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 4, Preston North End 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 4, Preston North End 1.

Goal!

Goal! West Bromwich Albion 4, Preston North End 1. Josh Ginnelly (Preston North End) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lukas Nmecha.

Booking

Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion).

Josh Ginnelly (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Chris Brunt (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Attempt blocked. Mason Holgate (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Matt Phillips.

Substitution

Substitution, Preston North End. Josh Ginnelly replaces Alan Browne.

Jordan Storey (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion).

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Ryan Ledson.

Attempt blocked. Stefan Johansen (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Dwight Gayle.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Declan Rudd.

Attempt saved. Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Mason Holgate.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Jordan Storey.

Foul by Ryan Ledson (Preston North End).

Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Chris Brunt with a cross following a corner.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Declan Rudd.

Attempt saved. Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Kyle Bartley.

Foul by Sean Maguire (Preston North End).

Mason Holgate (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Sean Maguire (Preston North End).

Stefan Johansen (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Alan Browne (Preston North End) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sean Maguire.

Attempt saved. Jay Rodriguez (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Craig Dawson with a headed pass.

Booking

Darnell Fisher (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Darnell Fisher (Preston North End).

Jay Rodriguez (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Goal!

Goal! West Bromwich Albion 4, Preston North End 0. Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion) header from very close range to the high centre of the goal following a corner.

Attempt blocked. Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Chris Brunt with a cross.

Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Declan Rudd.

Attempt saved. Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

Substitution

Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Matt Phillips replaces Jake Livermore.

Foul by Daniel Johnson (Preston North End).

Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Conor Townsend.

Attempt missed. Jay Rodriguez (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mason Holgate with a cross.

Hand ball by Stefan Johansen (West Bromwich Albion).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich412510684503485
2Leeds422571069422782
3Sheff Utd422310969393079
4West Brom4221101181562573
5Aston Villa421815977581969
6Bristol City411811125546965
7Middlesbrough421713124436864
8Derby411712125950963
9Hull42179166159260
10Sheff Wed421514135255-359
11Nottm Forest421415135652457
12Preston421512156059157
13Swansea41168175554156
14Brentford421412166658854
15Blackburn421411175764-753
16Stoke421119124147-652
17QPR42139205065-1548
18Birmingham421316135854446
19Reading421014184763-1644
20Millwall411012194659-1342
21Wigan411011204461-1741
22Rotherham42816184672-2640
23Bolton4288262972-4332
24Ipswich42416223368-3528
View full Championship table

Top Stories