Albion advance to go – and collect another three points!
DARREN Moore appears to have an endless stack of ‘get out of jail’ cards to play on his daring mission to monopolise the Championship.
Despite Reading’s recent upturn on their travels, many had Saturday’s fixture down as a home banker for West Brom.
Yet the Royals cashed in on hospitable defending to forge an early lead they ought to have built on during a dominant first half.
Reading’s rule soon outstayed its welcome.
West Brom were a wholly different proposition after the interval owing to a tactical tweak by head coach Moore.
Jay Rodriguez was dropped deeper to play alongside Harvey Barnes as a second No.10. It was a more understated alteration than those made in his triple substitution at Hillsborough. But just as effective. If Albion’s rock-bottom first-half display had a touch of Old Kent Road about it, then the second was more Mayfair.
The Baggies pinned the visitors back from the moment ref Darren England’s whistle left his lips and moved through the gears at Reading’s expense.
There was no let-up. Just as well, because only after Albion had quickly taken the score to 4-1 did most fans feel the points were safe.
The nerviness that exists among supporters, if not the manager, is borne out of a real sloppiness at the back that was again on show during the first period. The withdrawal of Tyrone Mears, who continues to deputise for the injured Matt Phillips at right-wing back, was greeted with loud cheers. Mears had not had the most comfortable afternoon, along with the rest of the back five you might argue. Kyle Edwards, his successor, added an offensive thrust down the right side and more than played his part in the turnaround. That the Albion academy graduate was making his Championship debut almost slipped under the radar as the goals rained in.
Naturally, Moore reserved acclaim for “fantastic” Edwards, but also the man he replaced.
“Tyrone has played three games in seven days,” Moore said.
“When he came in he wasn’t fit so that’s great testament to him.
“It was his cross Gayle scored from, so great credit to him. Same with Kyle, he’s a wonderful product of our academy.
“I felt the game was right for him at that time, fresh legs, that hunger and desire and I think we saw glimpses of the talent he’s got.
“I thought it might put Reading on the back foot, which it did do, and he’s contributed to a valuable
“My message is clear to the home fans. They’re here to support the team and that’s it.
“If we’re going to do anything this season we all need to be together. We’ve all got our jobs to do.”
Squandering leads was the Achilles heel last season as Albion tumbled out of the top flight.
These days they are arguably more dangerous when they’re behind.
They have collected nine points from losing positions – more than any other team in the Championship.
Primarily because they’ve got firepower – in Dwight Gayle, Harvey Barnes, Jay Rodriguez and Phillips – that will almost always rescue them.
A fifth straight home league win lifted Moore’s men up to second and leaves Albion’s promotion bid on advance to go.
> Tyrone Mears was praised by the manager