Ivan Toney doesn’t usually need much assistance inside the penalty area.
So when the ball bounced off Bristol City defender Zak Vyner and into his path during Saturday’s clash at Ashton Gate, the end result was inevitable. Rounding Robins keeper Dan Bentley before slotting into an empty net, Toney’s 31st goal of a record-breaking season was also one of his easiest.
But perhaps that’s just what Toney does? He makes finding the back of the net look easy.
A lesser striker may not have anticipated the loose ball in the first place, might not have swept aside an onrushing goalkeeper with such ruthless efficiency.
Across the past three seasons, this one-time Newcastle reject has gone from strength to strength to strength.
23 goals in 2018/19; 26 in 2019/20; 31 in 2020/21 and counting, with the Championship play-offs taking place next week.
Now, we can’t possibly expect Toney to better this year’s tally in 2021/22, especially if, as expected, he seals a big-money move to a Premier League club in the summer transfer window.
But after becoming the first player to score more than 30 goals in a single Championship campaign, don’t be surprised if Toney has top-flight defenders feeling like Vyner did before too long.
“His record? Incredible. Not only that, (he’s got) double figures in assists, which goes unnoticed. What a player he’s been this season,” former West Ham ace Dean Ashton told EFL On Quest (8 May, 9pm) about a striker who could soon put pen to paper with his old employers.
Last week, The Sun reported West Ham were battling Chelsea for the most prolific centre-forward in English football right now. Toney is also an option for an Arsenal side craving a reliable number nine, while Everton could make a bid of their own (Athletic).
Wherever Toney ends up, expect the Championship history-maker to do what he does best – score goals.