Midfielder enjoyed his Baggies bow against the Black Cats
CRAIG Gardner insists Albion will take the positives from their point at home to Sunderland and look to build on what was an encouraging opening-day display.
The Solihull-born midfielder made his competitive debut for the Baggies against his former employers in an entertaining 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns.
Gardner certainly left a good impression having played a key role in both Albion goals.
It was his driving run and pass to Victor Anichebe which led to the first-half penalty to draw the hosts level, before Gardner’s second-half cross found Saido Berahino at the back post for his and Albion’s second.
It may not have been enough to clinch all three points in the end but Gardner was in upbeat mood after the full-time whistle.
“It was a good game and we were unlucky not to get all three points,” he said.
“I thought we played really well in the first half and battled when we had to in the second.
“At the start of a new season it is always nice to get a result and we picked one up after going one down. All credit to the lads for that.
“To go one down so early on, we could have folded but we didn’t. It’s a decent result against a good Sunderland team.
“We will take the positives out of it because it was a good performance from us.
“We played some good stuff and you have to remember a new manager has come in and I am one of a few new players, so it is only going to get better.
“If we play like that in our opening game, then we can take that on and pick up plenty of points as we go along.”
Despite Gardner’s impressive debut, it was Berahino who naturally grabbed the limelight after his opening-day double.
It proved a fine way to get off the mark for Albion’s top goalscorer from last season.
Gardner had nothing but praise for the 21-year-old and his hard-working attitude.
And even admitted there was no chance he was going to try and take the ball off Berahino prior to his successful spot-kick, despite being a regular penalty taker at his previous clubs.
“Saido has had a very good pre-season and that definitely showed. He has been doing extra training and shooting,” Gardner said.
“He is just a young lad so to get two goals in the first game of the season is only going to make him even better going forward. He has a great attitude and all credit to him.
“He’s brilliant, so sharp and has a real goal instinct. I have been so impressed with him. He is very confident, as you saw with the penalty.
“I am a regular penalty taker and wherever I go I normally take them, but he was so confident and when someone is like that you just let them have it, and he tucked it away really well.
“He was the penalty taker last year and has not missed one so I could hardly come in and kick him off it because he is a good lad with a lot of self-belief.
“And anyway, I would rather a striker score a lot of goals because they can take it on into the season.”