Alan Pardew decided to play Haris Vuckic in midfield to replace Cabaye, otherwise the team was unchanged from the Swansea game. This was United’s last home game of 2011 and the mood amongst the fans seemed to be one of expectancy – a good opportunity to get back to winning ways.
The match got off to a lively start with Newcastle stroking the ball around confidently. Within the first five minutes Steven Reid of West Brom was injured and clearly unable to continue. Jonas sportingly kicked the ball out of play and was rewarded with a handshake from opposing manager Roy Hodgson. Reid was replaced by Billy Jones.
A good, open game was developing with nothing much between the sides. Then in the 20th minute, Chris Brunt slotted the ball through to Odemwingie who hit a left foot shot into the net. 1-0 to West Brom. United hit back and had the ball in the net within 3 minutes but Ba’s effort was ruled offside. Newcastle United 0 – 1 West Bromwich Albion.
On 34 minutes, Obertan went charging through the middle on one of his ranging runs and was brought down on the edge of the box. With no Ryan Taylor on the pitch, up stepped Demba Ba (who else?) to hit a peach of a free kick into the top corner to Foster’s left. Obertan’s “assist” here might get some of the boo boys off his back. We can only live in hope. Newcastle United 1 – 1 West Bromwich Albion.
The game looked to be heading for half time nicely balanced, but somebody forgot to tell Gareth McAuley. The ball was crossed into the United box and headed back by Paul Scharner from the far post for McAuley to score an easy header, with our defence as interested spectators. Newcastle United 1 – 2 West Bromwich Albion.
Ryan Taylor replaced Davide Santon at half time. The second half saw United once again make a bright start and both teams stroking the ball around and playing some good football. Alan Pardew finally decided to bring on Ben Arfa in the 62nd minute with Leon Best making way. This looked like a good move, as it was clear United needed to somehow find a way to open up the West Brom defence, which was playing well. United were on top and putting pressure on West Brom who were looking dangerous on the break. However the pressure was not producing the much-needed breakthrough.
Finally, the breakthrough came. Ba had been working tirelessly all night and looking dangerous every time he got the ball – and in the 81st minute he got his just reward with his second goal of the night. He got on the end of a long ball forward and chested it down to Ben Arfa, who laid it back for Ba to bury in the top corner. What a player Ba is turning out to be this season! Probably another one we need to be worried about as the January transfer window approaches! Newcastle United 2 – 2 West Bromwich Albion.
Then four minutes later – disaster. A game of swings and roundabouts swung back West Brom’s way. Long glided past Collocini with ease on the right and crossed. Odemwingie knocked it down for Scharner to score. Newcastle United 2 – 3 West Bromwich Albion.
Collocini finally showed his frustration in the 90th minute after Odemwingie had beaten him again, and was booked for bringing him down.
The wheels seem to be definitely loosening on the early-season bandwagon with United’s much-vaunted defence beginning to leak too many goals in recent games. There are still some good individual performances in the team – particularly from the likes of Ba, but results, especially in the last two games, have been particularly disappointing. Our inability to see off Swansea and now West Brom at St James’ Park is worrying. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking about a “top 7” place and start to focus on where we are going to get the 13 points we need to take us to the traditional 40 points safety mark.
Teans, stats etc
Newcastle United (4-4-2) Tim Krul (G), Danny Simpson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini (C), Davide Santon, Gabriel Obertan (Shola Ameobi 73), Haris Vuckic, Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best (Hatem Ben Arfa 62), Demba Ba.
Subs Rob Elliot (G), Ryan Taylor, Mike Williamson, Mehdi Abeid, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Ben Foster (G), Steven Reid, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Nicky Shorey; Jerome Thomas (Graham Dorrans 69), Youssouf Mulumbu, Paul Scharner, Chris Brunt (C); Peter Odemwingie, Shane Long.
Subs Marton Fulop (G), Billy Jones, Craig Dawson, George Thorne, Graham Dorrans, Marc-Antonie Fortune.
Goals: Peter Odemwingie (21), Demba Ba (35, 80), Gareth McCauley (45), Paul Scharner (85).
Yellow cards: Fabricio Coloccini (90)
Red cards: None.