Daryl Dike double and 'defensive commitment' delights West Brom boss Carlos Corberan
USA international Dike found the net in the eighth minute when teed up by Jed Wallace, and two minutes later John Swift was the provider. Boro, who had been in rampant goalscoring form prior to this, were comparably modest in the final third and they now find themselves seven points behind second-placed Sheffield United after going down 2-0. Dike, though, now has five goals to his name since the restart of the campaign after the World Cup break in December but these strikes ended a six-match run without finding the net.
Corberan, though, was impressed by his all-round game in what was a hotly-contested meeting between two teams eyeing promotion.
"I value a lot his defensive commitment today, as much as his goals - because goals are key to win football matches," Corberan said. "We know as strikers, playmakers and wingers have responsibilities to score goals, because many times they are going to finish the chances we create - and the team have responsibility to create chances. "For the striker it's important to increase his confidence by scoring goals, but for me I reward more the football that he was doing at the same level that I reward his goals." The opening goal was expertly created. Swift picked up the ball on the left and slipped in Wallace, who had held his run to avoid the offside flag, in down the wing. His centre was delicately turned in beneath compatriot Zack Steffen.
Things got even better for the American almost immediately after with another beautifully crafted move - this time it was Wallace who found Swift, and he in turn laid it onto Dike.
The high-flying visitors began to settle after their early setback and started applying pressure around the hosts' penalty area, but Albion continued to have them at an arm's length.
Boro, who possess the division's highest scorer in Chuba Akpom, finally tested young goalkeeper Josh Griffiths when Marcus Forss sent a stinging drive towards the top corner. Griffiths, at full stretch, was able to to tip it over the bar and he was on hand at the death to deny Izzy Jones. For Boro boss Michael Carrick, it proved to be an afternoon of frustration. "It's frustrating and disappointing because we don't like losing games. It was one of those games in the end," Carrick said. "We actually started well for six or seven minutes, looked good on the ball and composed. But we then give away two soft goals in quick succession and that's the difference. That puts you on the back foot because there is a long way to get back into the game. "Even then, I believed we could get back into the game, but they defended very well with those goals to hang onto. "I can't fault the boys for their efforts and attitude and the way they went about it. It was just one of those days that we have to learn from and be better next time."
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