Joe Willock reacts as former Newcastle United striker scores for the first time in a year

Former Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)Former Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Former Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Joe Willock was among those to acknowledge the former Newcastle United striker's goal.

Former Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle scored his first goal for 12 months in Derby County's 3-0 win over Port Vale in League One.

The 34-year-old joined the Rams on a free transfer last month after terminating his contract at Stoke City, where he scored just three times in 50 appearances with his brace in a 5-1 win at Sunderland in March last year the last time he found the net prior to Saturday.

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Gayle's headed home from a Ebou Adams cross just before half-time to make it 2-0. Paul Warne's men sit second in the third-tier table as they eye automatic promotion with 10 games remaining.

“It was nice Dwight got his first goal," said Warnes. "I think he’s scored in every league now. I’ve said all along you are only ever as good in any game as your goalkeeper and your centre forward and if your centre forward can get a yard in the box and get a goal at a crucial time it makes a massive difference.

“It will give him a right boost, it will do him no end of good. We know he’s rusty but we also know that he can definitely play at this level and he's another threat for us.

“Some of his touches today were good again and he’s taken a little bit more rust off. It’s obviously great that Dwight scores because all strikers want to score.

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“It was nice to get that second goal just before half-time, it made the lads happier in the dressing room but I wasn’t really happy, I was disappointed. We had put ourselves under pressure and seemed to panic with three players going for the same ball but I thought in the second half we were comfortable.”

Gayle uploaded a photo of his celebration to Instagram with the caption "well needed 3 points" and Newcastle pair Joe Willock and Jacob Murphy were among those to reply.

Gayle had enjoyed a prolific record in the Championship prior to his time with Stoke. The 34-year-old earned a move to Premier League side Crystal Palace after scoring 13 times for Peterborough United before dropping back into England's second tier with Newcastle in 2016.

Signed for £12million by Rafa Benitez, Gayle struck 23 goals to fire United back to the Premier League at the first attempt. In total, he made 122 appearances and scored 34 goals across a six-year spell on Tyneside, which included a loan spell at West Bromwich Albion in 2018-19.

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When Gayle departed Newcastle, United head coach Eddie Howe said: “I was very honest with him. I said from day one, from my perspective, I had a great relationship with him, and I love working with him.

"He was brilliant for the team last year, and because of all those things, he deserved the utmost respect and honesty from me about the how the future lay for him, and I wanted to give him the best chance to find his next home.

“I really hope he goes on and has a great season next year, and I wish him nothing but success.”

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