Youngsters take top spot
SERGE Gnabry played a part in both goals as Albion’s Under-21 side defeated Stoke 2-0 at The Hawthorns, to go top of the Barclays U21 Premier League division two table.
The on-loan winger completed 85 minutes of the encounter, and in that time he had a hand in Baggies’ first goal which was finished off by Andre Wright, as well as claiming the assist for the second – scored by Joe Ward.
The result means James Shan’s men have now gone 12 league games unbeaten, a run which stretches back to March.
The Baggies took the lead as early as the 13th minute, when a great bit of link-up play down the right-hand side between Gnabry and Jonathan Leko resulted in Wright tapping home the latter’s centre from six-yards.
Shortly after, Kyle Edwards saw his header bounce off the post and go behind for a goal-kick as the hosts went in search of a second goal.
Stoke – who included Ryan Shawcross in their starting line-up - could have found themselves level at the break, but Mark Waddington nodded Thibaut Verlinden’s teasing cross wide two minutes before the whistle.
The visitors had the first chance of the second period but once again they failed to hit the target – Mohammed El Ouriachi firing over Jack Rose’s crossbar from 30-yards.
With just seven minutes to go, Stoke should have been level but Waddington’s half volley sailed over the bar from Lewis Banks’ left-wing cross.
It would prove to be a costly miss, because just 60 second later the Baggies put the game to bed.
Gnabry darted down the right-hand side and jinked past Banks before pulling the ball back for Ward, who had the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net from close-range.
ALBION: Rose, Ezewele, Howkins, Donnellan, McCourt, Ward, S.Nabi, Edwards (Cleet 77), Gnabry (Elbouzedi 85), Leko, Wright.
Unused subs: Ross, Smith, Fitzwater.