Baggies keep Newcastle in relegation trouble
Published 20/04/2013 | 17:42
Newcastle were left to rue a series of missed opportunities as they squandered a chance to pull away from relegation trouble at West Brom.
The Magpies dominated the first half of their Barclays Premier League clash at The Hawthorns and deservedly led through Yoan Gouffran's early header.
But after Papiss Cisse wasted another gilt-edged opening, the second half was a different story and West Brom hit the bar through Romelu Lukaku before Billy Jones equalised.
After that West Brom looked the side most likely to claim a winner and Rob Elliot, in for the injured Tim Krul, made a fine save to deny James Morrison.
Newcastle looked a tired side by the end and were obviously frustrated their early superiority had counted for so little.
It was clear by the way they started they wanted to make amends for last week's humiliating derby defeat to Sunderland.
They could have had the game won by the break after creating numerous opportunities, many through their lively strike pairing of Cisse and Moussa Sissoko.
But all they had to show for their dominance at the interval was Gouffran's eighth-minute effort, which came after a neat pass from Yohan Cabaye and a good cross from Cisse.
The opening exchanges had been scrappy but Newcastle had already threatened when Mathieu Debuchy's cross was cleared by Jones.
Newcastle pressed for an immediate second and Cabaye shot narrowly over from distance.
Jones escaped punishment after catching Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa with his arm and the Baggies had another let-off when Steven Taylor got behind the defence but failed to beat Ben Foster.
Cabaye also tested Foster moments later with a well-struck low volley from outside the box, while Sissoko broke clear down the left but his pass back for Cisse was scrambled clear by Jonas Olsson.
Sissoko did head on a long ball into Cisse's path soon after but Foster easily saved the Senegal forward's header.
Foster then dealt comfortably with a spectacular long-range effort from Cisse but he might have feared the worst as the striker seized on a poor pass by Olsson after 35 minutes.
Cisse instinctively clipped the ball over the outrushing keeper but his contact was too strong and a fine chance dipped just over the bar.
But there seemed no let-up from Newcastle as Debuchy won the ball in a heavy challenge on Goran Popov and raced forward only to shoot horribly wide.
West Brom did manage to piece a good move together in the closing stages of the half but controversy followed as they were awarded a free-kick on right edge of the box.
James Perch was ruled to have felled Jones after the referee had consulted his assistant but replays suggested the tackle had been clean - and inside the box.
Neither side therefore got the verdict they wanted and it was probably just as well for the officials the hosts completely wasted the opportunity.
Despite that, West Brom were clearly encouraged and returned for the second half a team reinvigorated.
Within moments of the restart Marc-Antoine Fortune tested Elliot for the first time with a long-range effort.
Elliot failed to grab the shot and was lucky to escape as substitute Shane Long seized possession but shot wide, while Lukaku gave the visitors another warning as he rose highest to head a Chris Brunt corner against the bar.
James Morrison shot wide as pressure continued to build and the hosts' good work eventually paid off just after the hour.
Morrison and Lukaku combined well before the striker turned in the area and picked out Jones, who coolly slid the ball beyond Elliot with a first-time shot.
The game almost turned on its head completely just two minutes later as an unmarked Morrison headed powerfully at goal from a Popov cross but Elliot saved well to his left, while Gareth McAuley won a header from another Brunt corner but failed to hit the target.
Newcastle looked a jaded team and could only break the momentum with a speculative attempt from the halfway line by Gouffran which never concerned Foster.
West Brom continued to come forward and Lukaku sent over a dangerous-looking cross for Long but the Republic of Ireland international was just unable to reach.
The game fizzled out in the closing the stages as Newcastle decided to preserve a point.