Express & Star

Yokuslu grabs late winner: West Brom 1-0 Blackpool - Report

Albion moved off the bottom of the Championship after Okay Yokuslu's late goal handed Carlos Corberan a first win in charge.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Okay Yokuslu of West Bromwich Albion celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the Sky Bet Championship between West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool at The Hawthorns on November 1, 2022 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Yokuslu's first goal for the club, a few months into his second stint at The Hawthorns, will not win any goal of the season awards but felt a significant moment in breaking through at the end of what looked another frustrating blank.

It remains to be seen whether the winner, just a third league victory in 18 and first at home since August 20, will truly be lift-off for the Spanish boss, but it could well be a key starting point.

With rivals Huddersfield in action tomorrow night, the Baggies' position away from the foot of the table may be brief but three points, coming from a much-improved second-half performance, lifted the home fans inside The Hawthorns.

A cold evening in teeming rain will now be remembered for Yokuslu's first Albion goal and Corberan's first win, rather than solely the first-half Action For Albion's 'Shine a Light' protest, where hundreds signalled and voiced their discontent against owner Guochuan Lai.

On the pitch, Corberan made three changes from the side that lost his first game in charge at home to Sheffield United on Saturday.

In came defender Kyle Bartley, back available after serving a one-match suspension, midfielder Yokuslu and attacker John Swift.

They replaced Erik Pieters, Jake Livermore and Grady Diangana, who all took a place on the bench, where they were joined by Tom Rogic. Martin Kelly and Adam Reach were left out of the squad.

Blackpool, managed by former Albion midfielder and caretaker boss Michael Appleton, were missing highly-rated on-loan Arsenal midfielder Charlie Patino through illness, he was replaced by Callum Wright.

Albion started well in the same 4-2-3-1 formation that ended the clash against the Blades on a brighter note.

Bartley nodded wide at the far post from a Jed Wallace cross after a recycled corner. Wallace and Matty Phillips, playing on the left wing, made good progress in the early stages.

Powerful Blackpool frontman Gary Madine headed wide of Alex Palmer's goal, but after being adjudged to have fouled Conor Townsend.

Off-field matters took precedent as the contest entered its 12th minute. A planned 'Shine A Light' protest, orchestrated by new protest group Action For Albion, saw many hundreds of home fans shine their mobile light from the stands to chorus of chants against the club's ownership led by Guochuan Lai.

The significant number of empty seats at The Hawthorns - even taking into account usual midweek traffic challenges and a broken-down pick-up on the M5 slip road - said a lot for the fanbase's discontent.

Albion had been the better side, just, but on-field action was largely uninspiring. Corberan's men forced a handful of set-pieces but once more failed to make them count.

But, just past the half hour, the hosts forged the game's first proper chance. Yokuslu's through ball released Karlan Grant towards the box. He checked inside on to his left but a low strike was read and saved by Blackpool keeper Chris Maxwell.

Bartley was a threat from a set-piece once more before the sides entered the interval goalless. He nodded a Swift corner straight at Maxwell.

Darnell Furlong helped his side avoid a nightmare start to the second half with a good block to stop Jerry Yates after Taylor Gardner-Hickman was caught on the ball. Gardner-Hickman had enjoyed an overwise good evening to that point.

Phillips, from the right flank with Wallace on the left, showed real purpose and a good turn of pace and trick to jink his way into the box before a rasping strike with his left foot flashed narrowly over the the top left corner.

It was better regards efforts at goal from Corberan's side as Swift curled over from the edge of the box minutes later after good Wallace and Phillips work.

Diangana's introduction on the hour was a positive one. His lovely through ball released Swift whose left-footed strike was smothered by Maxwell. It was a real chance.

Albion were much the better side by this stage and created openings more freely. Grant, operating on the left flank, dragged wide of the near post after Swift's backheel.

Corberan rolled the dice once more with 15 minutes left, after a decent Blackpool spell in which right-back Callum Connolly had fired over, by introducing Tom Rogic and Jayson Molumby.

Thomas-Asante was welcomed on by the Albion fans and played his part in the successful finale. His presence alone disturbed Blackpool defenders and, via a deflection, up popped Yokuslu, from nowhere, to stab home a massive goal, the significance of which is yet to be seen.

Albion (4-2-3-1): Palmer; Furlong, Bartley, O'Shea (c), Townsend; Gardner-Hickman (Molumby, 76), Yokuslu; Wallace (Diangana, 59), Swift, Phillips (Thomas-Asante, 83); Grant (Rogic, 76).

Subs not used: Button, Pieters, Livermore.

Blackpool (4-3-3): Maxwell; Connolly, Thorniley, Ekpiteta (c), Husband; Dougall, Carey, Wright (Lavery, 45); Yates, Madine (Corbeanu, 66), Hamilton.

Subs not used: Grimshaw, Williams, Thompson, Poveda.

Attendance: 19,786 (608 Blackpool fans)

Referee: Gavin Ward