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Managerless West Brom beat Reading to end winless run
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Taylor Gardner-Hickman scored West Brom’s second goal (Nigel French/PA)
Taylor Gardner-Hickman scored West Brom’s second goal (Nigel French/PA)

Managerless West Brom defeated Reading 2-0 to end their eight-match run without a Championship victory.

Under the guidance of interim boss Richard Beale after Steve Bruce was sacked on Monday, Albion went in front in the 25th minute through a close-range effort from Matt Phillips.

Although Reading had much of the play in the second period, the visitors secured the three points in the 72nd minute through a fine goal from defender Taylor Gardner-Hickman.

Beale, Albion’s under-21 coach, took temporary charge after Bruce was dismissed following a run of just one victory in 13 league games this season.

Bruce had won only eight of his 32 games in all competitions since succeeding Valerien Ismael in February.

Reading had enjoyed contrasting fortunes, winning six of their past 10 outings to take them into the play-off spots.

However, it was West Brom who began positively, with the lively Brandon Thomas-Asante seeing a powerful shot blocked in the early exchanges.

Phillips blazed wildly off target and then home goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis had to tip behind another attempt from Asante-Thomas.

Reading were without manager Paul Ince due to illness – though not thought to be Covid-related – and had assistant boss Alex Rae in the dug-out.

As Rae watched on, Reading gradually stemmed the Albion flow and started to venture forward for the first time, with Andy Carroll heading over from a Tom Ince corner.

West Brom quickly countered and were rewarded midway through the half when Phillips breezed past Nesta Guinness-Walker and cut in from the right.

Phillips looked up, spotted Bouzanis vulnerable at his near post and coolly slotted home.

Reading pressed hard for the equaliser before the break and Lucas Joao should have done better when nodding wide from a Junior Hoilett cross.

Although the hosts again pushed forward strongly after the interval, they were unable to find any way past the resilient Albion rearguard.

West Brom relied mostly on the swift break and twice might have extended their lead.

Grady Diangana took too long to control a precise Jed Wallace cross and allowed the backtracking home defence to crowd him out.

Wallace then escaped along the right flank but, as he went for the final pass into the danger area, he was also denied at the vital moment.

But Albion did stretch their advantage 18 minutes from the end when Gardner-Hickman took advantage of a poor error from Jeff Hendrick in midfield.

Gardner-Hickman strode onwards and unleashed a fierce 20-yard drive that flew past Bouzanis – for his first goal for the club.

Reading tried to peg back the deficit late on but Albion keeper Alex Palmer made fine saves to deny Mamadou Loum and Yakou Meite.


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