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Sunday 18 March 2018

Newcastle's match-winner Aleksandar Mitrovic warns of tough task ahead

Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has warned his team-mates they still have work to do
Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has warned his team-mates they still have work to do

Match-winner Aleksandar Mitrovic has warned Newcastle they have done nothing yet despite levering themselves out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

The 21-year-old Serbia international's fifth goal of the season was enough to clinch a priceless 1-0 victory over West Brom at St James' Park on Saturday and edge the Magpies a point clear of the bottom three as Norwich slipped into the mire.

However, with difficult away trips to Chelsea and Stoke either side of an 18-day lay-off to come, Mitrovic knows the job is far from done.

He told nufcTV: "It's very important for us, for our confidence, but we still don't have anything. We have 13 games more and they are like finals for us.

"We need to keep our feet on the ground, to work hard and try to improve. I hope we will keep playing like this, but as I said, we have done nothing and we need to work hard to give everything in every game."

Almost as encouraging as the result was the manner in which it was achieved as Steve McClaren's patched-up side took the game to the Baggies from the off and but for keeper Ben Foster and a post, which denied £12million signing Andros Townsend a goal on his home debut, they might have won far more comprehensively.

Newcastle thought they had taken a 29th-minute lead when Cheick Tiote, back in the starting line-up after his proposed January move to Shanghai Shenhua fell through, fired past Foster from distance, only to see his effort belatedly ruled out for offside.

But they had to wait just three minutes longer for Mitrovic to run on to Jonjo Shelvey's inviting through-ball and slot past the advancing keeper to break the deadlock.

Townsend said: "Even though we were disappointed that Cheick's goal was ruled out, we knew the goal was coming, and it did a couple of minutes later and we were all delighted."

For Mitrovic, who has seen chances come and go in recent weeks, there was a sense of relief and and a celebration dedicated to the impending arrival of his baby.

He said with a smile: "It was for 'Little Mitro'. My girlfriend is pregnant and in March, I hope we will get 'Young Mitro'."

If Newcastle were able to start glancing upwards on Saturday evening, West Brom boss Tony Pulis admitted he could not afford to think his club is safe with just six points separating them from the drop zone.

He went into the game without the injured Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt and James Morrison, while Saido Berahino, the subject of a failed £21million bid from the Magpies last weekend, was used only as a half-time substitute.

Pulis said: "We have got good lads here. The other thing you have got to realise is without Jonny Evans - Jonny Evans has been our best player this year by a country mile - without Jonny's calming influence...

"We haven't got Brunty, we haven't got James Morrison, Saido has missed half a season, so we have got things going on at the football club.

"You don't want to make excuses, especially today, but you hope that they get back as quickly as they possibly can. It makes us stronger."

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