Newcastle United faced West Bromich Albion on Wednesday evening which proved to be another exciting encounter between the two sides.
Alan Pardew made one enforced change to the side that had faced Swansea City at the weekend. Haris Vuckic gained his full Premier League debut in place of the suspended Frenchman, Yohan Cabaye.
Alan Pardew had obviously prepped his side to hound West Brom and this was certainly evident in the way that their players were closed down. The side continued the fluidity that had been shown in the game against Swansea and the main attacking outlets were Davide Santon and Gabriel Obertan – both using their pace in order to beat defenders and add to Newcastle’s attacking threat.
Unfortunately for Newcastle, their efforts were undone in the 20th minute when Chris Brunt played the ball to Peter Odemwingie. The ball was played away from Coloccini and Odemwingie slotted it calmly into the back of the net.
There was an immediate response from Pardew’s side when the ball was played in by Obertan, Best then knocking the ball back for Ba to volley into the net. The supporters around the ground cheered in delight but delight was turned into frustration when the goal was correctly disallowed for Leon Best being offside.
Up until West Brom’s goal, there had been several good pieces of play within the Newcastle side. Jonas Gutierrez notched up two efforts on goal but both were off target. Haris Vuckic was certainly relishing his opportunity to play for the Magpies and in the 18th minute had shown tremendous visual awareness to thread the ball through West Brom’s defence for Demba Ba to latch on to only for Ben Foster to beat him to it.
Obertan was playing with a point to prove to the Newcastle fans and it certainly seemed that he was being more decisive with the ball at his feet. He was utilising his pace in order to make the defenders back off him so that he could create more space for him and his teammates around him.
In fact it was Obertan’s pacy run from the right-flank that led to him being fouled. From the resulting freekick, Demba Ba showed outstanding technique to whip the ball into the back of the net.
However in the 43rd minute Newcastle United failed to deal with a West Brom set piece that led to them going 2-1 upfront. Chiek Tiote allowed Paul Scharner to keep the ball alive and McAuley headed home for West Brom to take the lead once again. Poor defending let the Newcastle side down and was reminiscent of the team’s failure to deal with set-pieces in their defeat at the hands of the Canaries.
Almost 45th minute Vuckic used the referee’s advantage to the potential when striking a left-footed effort that struck the underside of the bar and post before leaving in form Ba unable to capitalise on the rebound.
That was to be it for the first half, Newcastle had created chances early on in the game but had failed to take full advantage of them. Ultimately two defensive errors had led to both West Brom goals but they had been clinical in front of goal, taking both which had been offered to them.
There was to be one change at half-time and that was Ryan Taylor replacing Davide Santon. At times West Brom had exploited the Newcastle’s left-hand side when Santon had been sucked too far forward. Whether this was the reason he was subbed or whether it was due to an injury Ryan Taylor took over at left-back for the rest of the match.
Ryan Taylor turned provider for Demba Be when he won the ball and passed to Demba Ba. Ba cut inside and fired an effort on goal.
The ball found its way into the back of the net once again but Newcastle’s joy was cut short when Demba Ba was in an offside position .
Newcastle’s defending went from bad to worse when Shane Long beat the Toon’s high line to find himself through on goal. Credit must go to Tim Krul who stood tall to force Long wide. The Irishman then hit the crossbar from an acute angle, and James Perch who forced Long to lift his shot off the floor by racing back to be on the line, but Newcastle were very lucky to see the scoreline remain 2-1.
The chances were coming thick and fast for both sides and it was Leon Best’s turn to join in on the act, shooting from twelve yards to force a save from Ben Foster.
Newcastle were being bullied by a West Brom side who were running high on confidence. The Magpies were letting West Brom past them too easily and Newcastle’s previous bite had seemed to have deserted them.
Leon Best was replaced by Hatem Ben Arfa in the 60th minute with the Frenchman slotting in behind Demba Ba. Best had had an uneffective night and Ben Arfa was the obvious candidate to replace him.
Newcastle were continuing to exert pressure on West Brom with the countless corners that they were winning. But the corners were amounting to nothing, for all the effort that the Magpies were putting in it seemed to be in no avail.
Hatem Ben Arfa was proving why he should be in the team with his neat trickery when he picked the ball up in midfield and ran towards goal only to have his shot blocked. The Frenchman added more finesse to the way the team were playing.
The third and final substitution of the match saw Gabriel Obertan replaced by Shola Ameobi. Obertan had a better game than Swansea last week but he still needs to up his game.
As the game entered its final fifteen minutes, West Brom used their work-rate in order to nullify any attack that Newcastle tried to muster. They brought several of their players back in order to defend and forced Newcastle into using the long ball to try and gain an equaliser.
However Ben Arfa’s introduction into the side in the 60th minute seemed to pay off when on eighty minutes he was challenged while he dribbled at goal. Demba Ba was on hand to smash home the loose ball from eighteen yards to make it 2-2.
Vuckic continued his impressive display when he had another effort on goal from thirty-five yards to force Ben Foster to tip it over the bar.
Newcastle’s good work was once again undone by the high line that they had fielded throughout the night and on the 84th minute when Paul Scharner prodded into the back of the net after good work from Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie in the build up.
There were to be final efforts on West Brom’s goal but this was all in vain as the final whistle went with the Magpies dropping three points they should have capitalised on. With the next three games: Bolton, Liverpool and Manchester United it leaves Newcastle in a weak position.
At times throughout the match, Newcastle had been the dominant side but had failed to exert that dominance over West Brom. All three of their goals came on the counter attack and exposed Newcastle’s defence. The defending of these goals had been poor and West Brom took their chances.
There is a lot for Pardew to rectify before these games and the main one must be the defence and how they were easily exposed last night.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Gabriel Obertan, Cheik Tiote, Haris Vuckic, Jonas Gutierrez; Demba Ba, Leon Best.
Subs: Rob Elliot, Ryan Taylor, Mike Williamson, Mehdi Abeid, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi.
West Brom: Ben Foster; Steven Reid, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Nicky Shorey; Jerome Thomas, Paul Scharner, Yussuf Mulumbu, Chris Brunt; Shane Long, Peter Odemwingie.
Subs: Martin Fulop, Marc-Antoine Fortune, Graham Dorrans, Craig Dawson, Billy Jones, George Thorne, Simon Cox.