West Brom 2-0 Preston: Baggies maintain promotion charge as Hal Robson-Kanu and Jake Livermore seal comfortable win at the Hawthorns
- First-half goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and Jake Livermore set Albion on the way
- Preston down to ten men in the second half when Darnell Fisher was shown red
- Baggies now have the comfort of a seven-point cushion on second-placed Leeds
The Slaven Bilic juggernaut continues to hog the fast lane and looks unlikely to be applying the brakes any time soon.
First-half goals from Hal Robson-Kanu and Jake Livermore set Albion on their way to another victory and the comfort of a seven-point cushion on second-placed Leeds.
Preston were reduced to ten men half way through the second half when Darnell Fisher was shown straight red for a challenge on Callum Robinson but never really troubled West Brom.
Hal Robson-Kanu opened the scoring after just six minutes as he tucked it under Declan Rudd
Jake Livermore doubled the lead on the stroke of half time, with a driving shot into the corner
Preston were down to ten men half way through the second half when Fisher was shown red
Match facts and player RATINGS
West Brom (4-3-3): Johnstone, O’Shea, Hegazi, Ajayi, Townsend, Livermore, Harper, Pereira, Krovinovic, Robinson, Robson-Kanu
Subs: Bond, Bartley, Furlong, Barry, Grosicki, Phillips, Austin
Goals: Robson-Kanu 6, Livermore 45
Preston (4-2-3-1): Rudd, Fisher, Pearson, Davies, Browne, Johnson, Hughes, Bauer, Maguire, Barkhuizen, Nugent
Subs: Ripley, Clarke, Rafferty, Gallagher, Potts, Sinclair, Stockley
Sent off: Fisher 64
Season at a glance
For Albion it was the perfect start to a run of three matches in a row at home, including the FA Cup tie against Newcastle.
Given the pre-match snow at The Hawthorns, how apt that Preston’s players should be caught cold too.
Robson-Kanu, fresh from his two goals at Bristol City at the weekend, continued the scoring streak with the opener after just five minutes.
Questions should be asked of Preston’s defence as a cross from Robinson dropped for Robson-Kanu to chest down and beat Declan Rudd with no sign of a challenge.
So that was three in two and 10 for the season from the forward. It was also the perfect start against a Preston side aiming to extend their unbeaten away run to seven games.
David Nugent is pictured (left) making an acrobatic attempt on goal at the Hawthorns
The lead could, and probably should, have been doubled but Robinson was denied by Rudd who was destined to have a busy night.
Matheus Pereira picked himself up from a foul by Daniel Johnson to aim a low free kick straight to the Preston goalkeeper.
Then Rudd reacted well to block as Robinson shot from short range.
A little warning signal was sounded when Preston David Nugent headed a cross from Andrew Hughes straight into the turf and over the bar. Fisher also steered a header wide.
It has been a fruitful few weeks for the Championship leaders, 13 out of the last 15 points in the bag and a four-point gap on second-placed Leeds before this match.
Matheus Pereira goes down under pressure of Andrew Hughes’s challenge during the match
But Preston have promotion aspirations too and have proved durable and determined in recent weeks. Going a further goal down before half-time made the ask a tough one though.
Livewire Robinson delivered the pass for Jake Livermore who swept the ball past Rudd.
Buoyed by the second goal, Albion went looking for another one and were within whisker of doing so through Filip Krovinovic.
Krovinovic was then involved in a tussle with Fisher but referee Kevin Friend was having none of it.
Preston boss Alex Neil looks livid as he watches on during his side’s loss at the Hawthorns
There was no doubt in the referee’s mind, however, when Fisher launched into a tackle which saw him crash into Robinson. Despite the pleas of the Preston players, their teammate was shown a straight red card.
Preston have also been in ominous form with this only their second defeat in nine matches to take them into a cluster of teams chasing the top six.
But while they never stopped trying, they barely troubled Albion keeper Sam Johnstone. In fact the home side should have won by a bigger margin.
Sub Charlie Austin forced a brilliant save from Rudd after a brilliant passing set-up which had the fans in raptures.
Even then Albion went looking for a final flourish with Rekeem Harper clipping the bar with a wonderful curved effort.
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