West Brom continued their phenomenal form under new manager Carlos Corberan on Monday as they earned a 1-0 win over Reading to move within one point of the Championship playoffs.
Daryl Dike’s header was enough to seal the three points for the Baggies, ensuring that they would win for the fifth home game in a row without conceding a goal, with a promotion push now certainly on the cards despite the woeful start to the season under Steve Bruce.
While Dike will dominate the headlines after scoring the only goal of the game, it was arguably Conor Townsend who was Corberan’s star performer against the Royals.
As per Sofascore, the former Scunthorpe United man would earn an impressive 7.6/10 rating for his performance on Tuesday, with only Dike (7.8) rated higher of every player to feature in the game.
Townsend was certainly unlucky not to open the scoring when he crashed a header against the post in the first half, although his overall performance certainly warranted a goal.
During the 90 minutes, the left-back would contribute four clearances, one interception and three tackles, which is even more impressive when you consider that he has averaged just 1.6 tackles and 1.9 clearances in the Championship so far this campaign.
Against a dangerous Reading right-hand side featuring Junior Hoilett and Tom Ince, the 29-year-old was completely dominant, winning all five of his aerial and ground duels at the Hawthorns.
However, it wasn’t just his defending that made his performance so good, as he also contributed two key passes and two shots during the game, both of which are an improvement on his average of 0.7 shots and one key pass per game in the second tier.
Townsend has worked his way up through the divisions and is continuing to deliver at the top end of the Championship for Corberan, which journalist Chris Lepkowski seemingly predicted when praising the defender back in 2021 on the West Brom podcast The Liquidator.
He said: “There’s no shortage of endeavour there, I think we all appreciate that he isn’t the most technically adept left-back, but in terms of endeavour and enterprise, he is superb. You know every week that he will put a shift in, he may make mistakes, he may not always get that final ball on target or the cross on target, but you know you’re going to get a very solid defensive display.”
Had Townsend’s first-half header found the net, then he surely would have been recognised as the man-of-the-match on Tuesday but his overall display arguably puts him ahead of Dike as the star performer in Corberan’s side.