“When do you think Match of the Day will have this one scheduled in for?” — “Tuesday”. The Amazon Prime commentators summed this one up perfectly.
Allardyce named an unchanged team for the third successive game, rewarding the players for their good performances, despite our recent loss against Everton. We started the day knowing nothing short of a win would keep our very slim survival chances alive.
The first half was a tale of a lack of quality in the final third from both teams; getting themselves into good positions, but the final ball wasn’t consistently good enough. Put it this way, I can’t imagine too many neutrals watched much after the first ten minutes.
Within the first five minutes, a poor touch from Yokuslu left us three on two and we were only saved due to a poor final ball. Again a few minutes later, a superb Furlong interception stopped an almost certain Newcastle goal, as Joelinton’s poor decision to cross the ball rather than shoot let the Magpies down once again.Embed from Getty Images
Our first clear-cut chance came from a Townsend cross in the 21st minute, but Pereira couldn’t get the connection on the cross he was hoping for. An infamous Allardyce long throw crafted the second Baggies chance of the half, with Furlong’s long throw flicked on, but Diagne shot way over the bar.
At the other end minutes later, after a well worked corner, Jonjo Shelvey’s deflected shot was saved well by Johnstone. The final chance of note in the half then came from a Phillips cross slid across the face of a somewhat open goal, which only needed someone to get a toe on to make it 1-0 Baggies.
For Newcastle, three points would give them clear breathing room from the chasing pack behind them. For us, three points would keep us alive and kicking. It seemed in the first half though, someone forgot to tell the players that.
Ten minutes into the second half, Phillips blasted over our best chance of the game so far, after a low cross from Pereira. It’s fair to say, you didn’t need to be a particularly good lip-reader to work out what Big Sam thought of the effort.Embed from Getty Images
The first Newcastle substitute in the 56th minute saw the return of Dwight Gayle to the Hawthorns and he was in the action shortly after, setting up Joe Willock for an effort which really tested Johnstone at his near post.
The next chance of note came with 20 minutes left on the clock, but Joelinton couldn’t get the ball out of his feet. In characteristic style of the game so far, the quality wasn’t there.
Maitland-Niles’ change of pace at the other end shortly afterwards left the Newcastle defenders in his shadow, but yet again an airshot from Diagne let Newcastle off.
A superb Gallagher corner flicked the head of Diagne as we approached the final ten minutes desperately needing a spark of quality from somewhere. Allardyce’s last throw of the dice came in a double change, bringing on Robson-Kanu and Grant with just a few minutes of regular time to go.Embed from Getty Images
Literally the only thing that happened in the last ten minutes was Andy Carroll came on as a sub with one minute to go. That was the highlight.
An extremely lacklustre performance from both teams. A six pointer which neither team realistically seemed as though they wanted to win. One point leaves us eight points from safety and with any realistic chances of staying up surely gone.
Well done for sticking with that one if you managed it.
Ratings: Johnstone (6), Furlong (6), O’Shea (6), Bartley (6), Townsend (6), Yokuslu (7), Gallagher (7), Maitland-Niles (6), Phillips (5), Diagne (4), Pereira (4). Subs: Grant (5), Robson-Kanu (5)
West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, O’Shea, Bartley (c), Townsend; Yokuslu; Pereira, Gallagher, Maitland-Niles, Phillips (Grant, 83′); Diagne (Robson-Kanu, 83′)
Unused Subs: Button, Ajayi, Peltier, Snodgrass, Sawyers, Livermore, Robinson
Newcastle United: Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles (c), Clark, Dummett; Hendrick (Gayle, 57′), Shelvey, Hayden; Willock; Joelinton, Fraser (Carroll, 90+3′)
Unused Subs: Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lewis, Murphy, Longstaff, Ritchie
Referee: Martin Atkinson