Rotherham United 0 West Brom 4
Darren Moore’s Albion made it four successive away victories with a comfortable win on their first ever visit to the New York Stadium in Rotherham with Dwight Gayle scoring his first Baggies hat trick.
The visitors took control of the game early thanks to a clever free kick for Gayle’s first. The pundits gushed when Kevin de Bruyne did something similar last season, and it was a superbly executed piece of skill as he fired the ball under the wall as the Rotherham defenders jumped.
It was the first time that Albion had scored in the opening ten minutes of the game this season, with the earliest goal having been Craig Dawson’s equaliser at Swansea last month.
Gayle’s second was a deft header but it required some real determination from the Newcastle loanee to get on the end of what was a fantastic cross from Matt Phillips.
His hat trick goal was a gift from Millers’ goalkeeper, Rodak, but it was well deserved for what was a superb performance from the man who is now Albion’s top scorer with 13. It was also something of a departure from his goalscoring record this season as he had previously only scored one of his ten goals away from the Hawthorns, a free kick at Preston.
In between Gayle’s first and second goals, Barnes made it 2-0 following up Rodriguez’s shot that hit the post. It was J-Rod’s only real contribution in what was a quiet game for the man who was Albion’s joint top scorer before the match but, thankfully, the other front players were on song.
Millers’ boss, Paul Warne, can feel somewhat aggrieved as to the size of the defeat, but there was no doubt that the Baggies deserved the three points. Rotherham never stopped trying, however, and were unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet.
Manning struck the post at 1-0, and did so again from the spot in the 76th minute in what was their best opportunity. Dawson also had to clear a couple off the line, but Albion managed to secure just their second clean sheet of the season, and their first on the road.
Despite the result, I thought Rotherham did OK and, with a little more quality in front of goal, they could have made it much harder for the Baggies. I was particularly impressed with centre back, Semi Ajayi, without whom the defeat could have been even heavier.
All in all, however, it was a professional performance from the Baggies and it was a change for the result to be virtually secured by half time. Only once before this season had Albion led by more than a goal at the break, and the fourth just after half time meant the 2,500 travelling supporters could enjoy the last 30 minutes.
It extends Albion’s unbeaten run to seven games in which they have picked up seventeen points and scored seventeen goals. The form of Norwich and Leeds means that there remains a gap to the top two, but the Baggies have now opened up a three point gap to Middlesbrough in fourth and with two winnable home games to come, Darren Moore’s team are primed to reign in the top two and push to an automatic promotion spot.