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Season 2011-12
West Bromwich Albion (h) Premier League

Wednesday 21st December 2011, 7.45pm

 St. James' Park

Dry and mild



 Newcastle United

West Bromwich Albion

2 - 3




20 mins There was much to admire about Chris Brunt's inch-perfect pass to Peter Odemwingie but to see Fabricio Coloccini outpaced and then try and fail to grab the striker was alarming. The left-footed finish in off Tim Krul's right post was expertly done. 0-1

34 mins
 Gabriel Obertan's reluctance to shoot did us a favour in provoking a rash challenge from Thomas but in Yohan Cabaye and Ryan Taylor's absence few expected Demba Ba to hit such a fierce and perfect shot into Foster's top corner. The keeper got a touch but it did little to stop the ball screaming into the Leazes End net. 1-1

44 mins
 A needless foul by Ba allowed Brunt to deliver a ball that seemed sure to elude everone but Paul Scharner's nod back meant that Gareth McAuley couldn't miss, although Perch had left him far too much room. 1-2

Half time: Magpies 1 Throstles 2

81 mins Just when it looked like an equaliser wasn't going to materialise Ba and Ben Arfa combined on the edge of the box, with Hatem Ben Arfa's misplaced pass actually helping Ba find the space to hit another unstoppable missile past Foster. 2-2

85 mins
 Long took on Coloccini and beat him easily down the right nbefore floating over a hopeful ball that shouldn't have caused any great danger. Odemwingie was able to head it back to Scharner and a prodded half-volley flew just inside the post to stun the home crowd. 2-3

Full time: Magpies 2 Throstles 3

We Said

Alan Pardew commented:

"Of course it (the winless run) is a concern. I thought that was evident too. The crowd were a little bit desperate for it, we were a bit desperate for it too. But you can't win Premier League games unless you're disciplined and controlled. At points we weren't - even though you couldn't fault their commitment to get back into it.

"Mainly because we were so desperate to win I thought we lacked a bit of control of the game. Our discipline wasn't where it was normally and that worried me a bit. We need to make sure that's right. We turned the ball over and were exposed, which isn't like us.

"The third goal just caught us on the break. there was a bit of fortune in the goal - more or less one of their first attacks of the second half.

“But the first half was where we got ourselves in trouble. We didn't play well enough in the first half and were caught at times by their front two. Their front two made us edgy, I thought.

"I felt sorry for Haris. He was terrific. He had two terrific efforts and I think he showed everybody here that he's going to be a player for us for sure.

"It's an upsetting game for us to lose because we are at home. The first half I didn't think we played anywhere near to our ability.

"Second half we did. We came back from a goal down. We was bossing proceedings, looking like we were going to get back into it, and when we got the second goal it set us up for a grand stand finish.

"But then to get done on the counter attack because of us looking for the win, maybe we were a little bit too desperate tonight. We would have had 30 points if we won tonight and maybe we wanted it too much, and didn't play as controlled as we usually do.

"We were creating chance after chance before we scored and then when we did we thought there we go, we can win it, but the front two for West Brom were a threat all night. They got down the side and had a bit of fortune for the goal I thought.

"He's (Demba Ba) been brilliant this year and probably the pick of our bunch tonight. His all-round play was terrific.

"We just need to get back to what we were doing at the start of the season. Tonight we were good in patches, but patches aren't good enough. We need to get that win under our belt otherwise we are going to put ourselves under pressure. The longer you go without a win the more unsettling it can be for the group."

They Said

Roy Hodgson

"It's always a good night when you win especially when you win away from home. We know how well Newcastle have started the season and that it would be tough.

"I think we have done fabulously well to score the goals that we did and to come back after the disappointment of the equaliser and score late in the game.

"It was an exciting game of football and there was certainly no lack of attacking play from both teams and for us of course that's two away games and six points.

"Many a team would have capitulated after the 2-2 and you could have ended up going home with nothing rather than the three points, so we are very pleased, pleased with the performance of the team and delighted with two back-to-back away wins at notoriously difficult places like Ewood Park and St. James' Park.

"All the teams who are up there can [finish in the top half of there table], and they can all slip again - when I say all, let's forget the big-money teams we are talking about who are fighting for the top four spots.

"Everyone seems to have come to terms long ago that there are six teams with the financial resources and the ability this year, and they are going to be fighting tooth and nail to see who gets the four Champions League spots.

"Behind that, you have got the Newcastle's and the Stoke's, perhaps, and after that really, a lot of us are capable of being in the top 10, but we have got to be careful because we are also capable of dropping down.

"But we have got to start getting some more points at home. We have been extremely unlucky at home.

"Some of our performances at home, I think, have been very good ones, but they haven't given us anything, so if we really want to stay nearer the middle than the bottom, then we need to start taking some points at home as well.

"I know Boxing Day against Manchester City might be a tough place to start, but we have got a lot of other teams to play at home who are in our ball-park who hopefully we can get some points from."


Baggies in Toon - last 40 years:

2011/12 lost 2-3 Ba 2
drew 3-3 S.Taylor, Lovenkrands, OG
2009/10 drew 2-2 Guthrie, Lovenkrands
2008/09 won 2-1 Barton(pen), Martins
2005/06 won 3-0 Solano, Ameobi 2(1pen)
2004/05 won 3-1 Kluivert, Milner, Shearer
2003/04 lost 1-2 Robert (LC)
2002/03 won 2-1 Shearer 2
1990/91 drew 1-1 L.O'Brien
1989/90 won 2-1 Quinn, Anderson
1989/90 lost 0-1 (LC)
1985/86 won 4-1 Reilly 2, McDonald, Clarke
1984/85 won 1-0 Beardsley
1977/78 lost 0-3
1976/77 won 2-0 Gowling, Cannell
1972/73 drew 1-1 Macdonald
1972/73 won 3-1 (TC) Tudor, Gibb, Hibbitt

Full record v West Brom:
  P W D L F A
SJP 56 28 13 15 118 81
TH 55 12 18 25 70 108
League 111 40 31 40 188 189
SJP(FA) 0 0 0 0 0 0
TH 4 1 0 3 7 8
SJP(LC) 2 0 0 2 1 3
TH 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cup 6 1 0 5 8 11
Tot 117 41 31 45 196 200




Those first 11 games of the season really did have me scratching my head in total disbelief. I simply couldn't fathom how what I thought was one of our thinnest squads in 20 years had managed to amass 25 points from less than a dozen games.

Our summer signings had mostly proved to be successful but that still couldn't explain how players like Leon Best, Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor were playing like seasoned Premier League pros rather than the mediocre Championship performers that they had seemed previously.

I still firmly believe that had Robin van Persie hit the ground running this season and tucked away some of those chances he squandered on Tyneside back in August then a win on wearyside wouldn't have followed and we would now already be in crisis, with a mutinous uprising making the current one at Ewood Park look a little pathetic.

Don't get me wrong, I was more than happy to be well wide of the mark but I did start to wonder how decades of experience had led me to such wildly inaccurate conclusions and like most of us, was enjoying the ride and the fortune that seemed to be showering us.

Our relegation form is also unrepresentative of a side that has gelled nicely and Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye have already proved to be two very astute and excellent signings. But one or two injuries and suspensions that were certain to kick in at some point should not see us being outclassed by Norwich and outwitted on home soil by Roy Hodgson's current mob.

Surely we've already got enough points and enough decent players to survive but I honestly don't believe that the current regime are looking beyond that - Premier League survival on a shoestring -we've just managed to do it ahead of schedule this season, that's all.

We always seem to have coincided a a good run of results and performances with transfer windows to take the pressure off spending big, so let's see what this poor run and injury list end up provoking in January. We'll probably go unbeaten now just to let our owner off the hook again....

Ba supplied a well-taken brace for the second time in a fortnight, but again ended up on the losing side as our winless run lengthened to six matches. Without the banned Cabaye and with Dan Gosling also suspended, Alan Pardew opted to hand Haris Vuckic his first top-flight start and leave Hatem Ben Arfa and Mehdi Abeid in reserve on the substitutes bench.

Newcastle fell behind after 20 minutes when Chris Brunt's fabulous pass set Peter Odemwingie away to outpace a sluggish-looking Fabricio Coloccini and convert via a post with a low left footed effort in front of the Gallowgate End.

There was almost an immediate response from the home side, but the linesman in front of the East Stand correctly adjudged Leon Best to be offside as his strike partner Ba swung his foot and found the net. 

Our number 19 though wasn't to be denied and after Jerome Thomas had illegally halted Gabriel Obertan's progress on the edge of the Baggies box, Ba unleashed a majestic right-footed free kick to restore parity - United's first goal on home soil in over four and a half hours. 

Back came the visitors though, with Ba's push on Mulumbu down the Albion right allowing Brunt to flight a free kick towards the far post. Paul Scharner didn't give it up as a lost cause and was able to nod back for the unattended Gareth McAuley to finish with ease. 

There was still time for Newcastle to reply and Vuckic advanced before unleashing a left-footed piledriver that bounced down off the corner of the goal frame but was just too lively for Ba to get his header on target.

Losing his eve-present tag last Saturday due to a minor injury, Ryan Taylor returned at left back for the second half in place of Santon. The Italian was later confirmed to have gone off with a knee problem - severity uncertain.

However it was West Brom who came close to adding a third after another precise counter-attack; Shane Long beating Tim Krul only to seeing his angled effort rattle the Leazes crossbar.

Frustrated at a lack of creativity and a build up that was often laboured and too often ended with a hopeful ball forward, the home fans sang the name of Ben Arfa and the Frenchman duly appeared to replace Best - who again did little to enhance his reputation.

Another accurate linesman's flag had denied Ba a second of the night but with nine minutes remaining he chested the ball down for Ben Arfa on the edge of the Albion box and then sent a soaring shot over the head of the helpless Ben Foster for his - and our - second leveller.

A happy ending to our 2011 home campaign seemed to be on the cards at this point, Vuckic again trying his luck from way out and forcing Foster into a fingertip stop at the expense of a corner.

Unfortunately it was to prove a cruel yule for another outstanding home crowd, as Shane Long found space down the Baggies right with five minutes to play and picked out Odemwingie with a searching centre.

He was able to head back across goal and with James Perch stranded in no man's land, Scharner sealed Albion's first league win on Tyneside since September 1977 with a crisply-struck half-volley.

This fixture finished 3-3 last May and only an instinctive block from Foster prevented a repeat of that scoreline when Tiote stole in to fire on goal from close range.

No third equaliser arrived however and Roy Hodgson's side deservedly recorded a fourth away win of the season, on a night when finding space - and moving into it - came far easier to them than their faltering opponents.

A fourth booking of the season for Fabricio Coloccini in the final seconds of the game means that the United skipper now needs to remain blemish-free at the Reebok and Anfield in order to avoid an automatic one match ban.

Two points from a possible 18 is the worst run of form since Alan Pardew arrived here just over a year ago - worse form than both Blackburn and Bolton who have won one of their last six games - and our rotten run has painfully coincided with the stadium renaming fiasco.

Having been found wanting in three supposedly "easier" games, United now embark on a trio of fixtures where recent history is very much against them.

We've lost our last five Boxing Day games in the Premier League, while festive cheer could be in short supply at Bolton away (3 points from 24), Liverpool away (1 point from 24) and Man United at home (2 points from 24).

Our fourth league defeat of the season left us in seventh place, while Demba Ba moved on to 13 PL goals in just 14 starts. He's now scored our last five goals, which hardly inspires confidence ahead of his looming absence....

Best and Shola don't look the answer but the falling through of Modibo Maiga's signing suggests that any money earmarked for a striker has been hastily diverted to funding a replacement for Steven Taylor.

Even a continuation of our rotten run won't see us drop much further than mid-table
post-festive season but a strong dose of reality has had to be swallowed recently and as the credibility of the club is being steadily eroded off the pitch, the severe cracks that have been papered over this season are starting to show through.


Niall Mackenzie

Page last updated 01 February, 2013