West BromWest Bromwich Albion4PrestonPreston North End1

West Bromwich Albion 4-1 Preston North End: Dwight Gayle hits a hat-trick in thumping Baggies win

Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring for West Brom
Dwight Gayle has now scored 21 goals in the Championship this season

Preston manager Alex Neil blamed speculation linking him with the vacant West Bromwich Albion managerial role for his side's heavy defeat at The Hawthorns.

Dwight Gayle's hat-trick all but ended Preston's fading top-six hopes as the Baggies inflicted a fourth-straight defeat on North End to solidify their own play-off position.

The victory was Albion caretaker James Shan's fourth in six games in charge but Neil continues to be linked with the job and says the rumours affected his players.

Neil said: "I thought that it [the speculation] got to the players. I could see it in their eyes before the match.

"It has affected them and it has affected the day for the fans, which I apologise for.

"I feel as if I have ruined the day for the supporters. People write what they want and then it grows arms and legs."

With Albion virtually assured of a play-off place - nine points above seventh-placed Middlesbrough with four games remaining - they must decide whether to stick with Shan or appoint a new man.

And Neil, who achieved promotion to the Premier League through the play-offs with Norwich City in 2015, called for an end to the uncertainty.

He added: "It needs to be brought to a conclusion. There has been no approach to Preston. So there is nothing to say. There is nothing for me to hide.

"When you've got a decision to make, then you are in control. There is no decision to make.

"I would imagine something would take place over the next couple of days and then whatever will happen will happen at that point."

Gayle opened the scoring for the hosts, volleying Chris Brunt's cross beyond Preston keeper Declan Rudd before quickly doubling his tally by finding the far corner from the edge of the area.

Jay Rodriguez added a third just before half-time from close range and Gayle completed his treble with a fine finish in the second half.

Callum Robinson scored a late consolation goal for Preston but defeat left them 12th, still eight points adrift of sixth-placed Bristol City.

Their margin of defeat could have been wider but Rudd saved efforts from Stefan Johansen and Rodriguez in the opening 20 minutes.

After Gayle notched his hat-trick with Rodriguez striking in between, the returning Matt Phillips nearly added a fifth for Albion when he forced Rudd into a good save late on.

West Bromwich Albion caretaker manager James Shan on job speculation and performance:

"They [the club] have asked me to look after first-team affairs until further notice and that is where we sit and where I am now.

"After two negative results I was delighted with the performance, the four goals scored and most importantly the three points.

"They (Gayle and Rodriguez) are both fighting it out to be our top goalscorer. I thought that to get our two highest scorers on the pitch was really important.

"Knowing the pair of them, the way that are around the training ground and how competitive they are, being level pegging, it can only bode well for the football club in our remaining fixtures."


West Brom

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Johnstone
  • 25DawsonBooked at 90mins
  • 26HegaziSubstituted forTosinat 52'minutes
  • 5Bartley
  • 68Holgate
  • 8LivermoreBooked at 57minsSubstituted forPhillipsat 70'minutes
  • 11Brunt
  • 6Johansen
  • 3GibbsSubstituted forTownsendat 61'minutes
  • 19Rodriguez
  • 16Gayle


  • 4Robson-Kanu
  • 10Phillips
  • 14Townsend
  • 23Bond
  • 24Tosin
  • 34Harper
  • 70Murphy


Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Rudd
  • 2FisherBooked at 74mins
  • 14Storey
  • 6Davies
  • 3Earl
  • 18Ledson
  • 45Nmecha
  • 8BrowneSubstituted forGinnellyat 87'minutes
  • 11Johnson
  • 12GallagherSubstituted forRobinsonat 42'minutes
  • 20StockleySubstituted forMaguireat 45'minutes


  • 7Robinson
  • 9Moult
  • 13Crowe
  • 15Rafferty
  • 17Ginnelly
  • 23Huntington
  • 24Maguire
Roger East

Match Stats

Home TeamWest BromAway TeamPreston
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 4, Preston North End 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 4, Preston North End 1.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! West Bromwich Albion 4, Preston North End 1. Josh Ginnelly (Preston North End) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lukas Nmecha.

  4. Booking

    Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion).

  6. Post update

    Josh Ginnelly (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Chris Brunt (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Mason Holgate (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Matt Phillips.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Preston North End. Josh Ginnelly replaces Alan Browne.

  10. Post update

    Jordan Storey (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion).

  12. Post update

    Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Ryan Ledson.

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Stefan Johansen (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Dwight Gayle.

  14. Post update

    Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Declan Rudd.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Mason Holgate.

  16. Post update

    Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Jordan Storey.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Ryan Ledson (Preston North End).

  18. Post update

    Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Chris Brunt with a cross following a corner.

  20. Post update

    Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Declan Rudd.

As It Stood

3Sheff Utd422310969393079
4West Brom4221101181562573
5Aston Villa421815977581969
6Bristol City411811125546965
10Sheff Wed421514135255-359
11Nottm Forest421415135652457
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