28 October 2012

Newcastle 2-1 West Brom

West Brom experienced heartbreak late for the second game on the trot as Papiss Cisse returned to the score-sheet in the most fortunate of circumstances.

Cisse's Senegalese counterpart Demba Ba had given the host's the lead on 35, only for Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku to equalise for the Baggies. But Cisse came off the bench and was seemingly in the right place at the right time as Sammy Ameobi's shot cannoned off his back, sending Ben Foster the wrong way. 

Alan Pardew selected James Perch to replace the suspended Cheick Tiote, while Shola Ameobi retained his place leading the line alongside the prolific Ba. Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Fabricio Coloccini all returned, as expected, to the side after being rested for the European tie against Club Brugge midweek.

Steve Clarke preferred Romelu Lukaku to the in-form Shane Long as the visitor's attacking threat, while Peter Odemwingie and Zoltan Gera returned to the team at the expense of Marc-Antoine Fortune and the injured Claudio Yacob.

The first real chance to separate the two sides came twelve minutes in, as Shola Ameobi found himself some room and curled in a cross for striking partner Ba, but the top scorer headed wide of Foster's goal when he would have been expected to do better.

The hosts, as expected, applied all the pressure in the early stages, the pragmatic duo of McAuley and Olsson holding firm, but Ben Arfa was ever a danger, constantly exploiting the identified weakness of right back in Albion's defence. 

Davide Santon, Ben Arfa's sidekick down the left hand side, thundered a shot from 30 yards on 20, when a Newcastle corner was cleared. The Frenchman made clean contact, and Foster did well to turn the ball away. Ameobi's header was also held by the goalkeeper from the resulting corner.

The away side's first attack came on the break from a Magpie corner, Dorrans bringing the ball over the halfway line before playing the ball behind the defence for Lukaku to run on to, but the Belgian was denied by Tim Krul- Odemwingie was seemingly an option had Lukaku chose to square the ball.

Gera fired over from a free kick, when Perch brought down Dorrans on the edge of the area, when more could have been made of the position of the ball.

Both sides looked dangerous, Albion more threatening on the counter, the general traffic of play being dictated by the hosts. Ben Arfa was becoming more impressive with his surging runs and ability to take on players at a time. 

The first goal came on 35 when a goal kick from Krul found Ameobi, the big Geordie flicking it on for Ba, the forward notching his seventh of the season after beating McAuley to the ball and firing the ball under Foster.

Shortly after Lukaku had another chance to influence the score in the visitor's favour, an excellent Mulumbu ball through beat the defence which the big man raced onto, only to be thwarted once again by the immeasurable Krul.

Odemwingie hit a speculative effort from distance which found the side-netting, bringing the curtain down on a high tempo half.

H-T: 1-0

Within a couple of minutes of the restart, Mulumbu had found the back of the net- unfortunately from a Baggie point of view, the shot deflected off Lukaku who was standing in an offside position.

The latter DID give Albion a way back into the match on 56, when he knocked down the ball for Zoltan Gera, the Hungarian brought the ball forward unchallenged before crossing the ball in for Lukaku, who finally beat Krul with a header.

The second half began quietly, not a lot of goalmouth action as such, but both sides were capable of scoring again and showed this coming forward. 

Pardew introduced Obertan and Cisse, while scorer Lukaku made way for Shane Long for the midlands side. Yellow cards were being issued with more regularity now, Cabaye, Mulumbu and Gutierrez all receiving cautions from Chris Foy in a short space of time.

Ameobi junior replaced Ba, and Rosenberg came on for Dorrans, both players leaving the pitch with slight knocks. Long's hold up play earned himself a corner, but Gareth McAuley's header was just wide.

The Baggies' best chance- or chances- of winning the game came on 78. Odemwingie was played in by the largely anonymous James Morrison (sitting deeper than normal in Yacob's place) and the Nigerian crossed low for Long, who was harried by Williamson. Upon bringing the ball away to safety, Coloccini was tackled by Odemwingie and the winger attempted again to tee up Long, this time Krul intervening. 

Pressure then came from the hosts, Obertan's cross not quite reaching Cisse, and Gera stopping Ben Arfa from supplying another cross. 

There was still time for Odemwingie to put another ball across the face of the Toon goal, a cross that Swede Rosenberg couldn't quite reach. 

The game was seemingly over when Olsson put a free kick behind for a Newcastle goal kick, but in the third minute of stoppage time Ameobi's shot took a wicked deflection off Cisse to take Albion's largely deserved point away.

Newcastle climb up to 10th with the win, while Albion drop to 8th and remain on 14 points.

Match ratings: NEW- Krul 8, Simpson 6 (Cisse 5), Coloccini 6, Williamson 7, Santon 7, Ben Arfa 7, Gutierrez 6, Cabaye 6, Perch 6, Sh. Ameobi 6 (Obertan 6), Ba 7 (Sa. Ameobi 6)

WBA- Foster 6, Tamas 6, McAuley 6, Olsson 7, Ridgewell 6, Mulumbu 7, Morrison 6, Odemwingie 7, Gera 6 (Popov 5), Dorrans 7 (Rosenberg 6), Lukaku 6 (Long 6).   

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