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Match Report: Newcastle United 2-3 West Bromwich Albion (West Brom Fan's Perspective)

Thursday 22nd December 2011
For the first time since 1977, West Bromwich Albion travelled back from Newcastle with a win and head into the Christmas break sitting comfortably in 10th place with 21 points following back-to-back away wins. In an interesting statistic, the Baggies had never won a Premier League away game in December before Saturday's trip to Blackburn.

The Albion had only one change from the win at Ewood Park on Saturday, with Jerome Thomas replacing James Morrison after he was diagnosed with a hamstring injury. On the bench, the Albion featured George Thorne and Marc Antoine Fortune who had both been recalled from loan spells at Portsmouth and Doncaster, respectively. The Newcastle United team made one change from the side that drew 0-0 with Swansea, with Haris Vuckic making his first Premier League start in place of the suspended Yohan Cabaye.

Newcastle started off brightly and got the first shot at goal when Leon Best headed Vuckic's free kick over the bar. But the situation saw Steven Reid injured as contested the header with Best and falling awkwardly, to be replaced by Billy Jones. With Reid being the man that he is, he tried to carry on but collapsed whilst in possession, with opponent Jonas Gutierrez kicking the ball out of play in an excellent sporting manner.

The Albion gradually started taking control of the game, with Peter Odemwingie constantly a threat for the away side. On the 20th minute, this threat convertedl. Nicky Shorey intercepted the ball in the Albion half and found Chris Brunt who sent a beautiful through-ball to Odemwingie who, with what looked like relative ease, sent the ball past Tim Krul and in off the left hand post. 1-0 to the Albion and the 800 travelling fans just couldn't get enough.

Within two minutes of Odemwingie's goal the ball was in the back of Ben Foster's net, however this was rightly called offside much to the delight of the still boinging Baggies fans sitting in the heavens of the Sports Direct Arena. Despite this little set back, the Albion were by far the dominant team, with Shane Long proving a real nightmare for keeper Krul who was catching crosses and headers across the goal.

Against the run of play, Gabriel Obertan went running down the wing only to be toppled by Thomas, for a free kick 20 yards out. Ba took the free kick and despite Foster getting a touch to the ball, buried it into the top left hand corner in what was a top finish from the ever impressive Ba, who has certainly got to be one of the buys of the season.

Following this goal, the game suddenly started to look more favourable for Newcastle with increased pressure and time on the ball. However, just before the break, centre-half Gareth McAuley scored his first Albion goal to give the Baggies the lead going into half time. Brunt's free kick found Paul Scharner, who found the unmarked McAuley to head the ball past Krul.

The home team were very nearly level when Vuckic hit the bar from 25 yards out and Ba failed to take a chance to head into the net in stoppage time. And at half time, it West Brom led 2-1.

The second half saw Newcastle come out all guns blazing with Ba sending a shot just wide after a mistake from Scharner, who gave the ball away. The Albion soon became the dominant team again and could have made it 3-1 when Long hit the woodwork with an open net following a Youssef Mulumbu through ball. Mulumbu again was the provider for an Odemwingie header that was blocked in a crowded goalmouth.

Hatem Ben Arfa came on for the hosts and had an immediate impact running through the Baggies defence and taking a shot that was eventually blocked by McAuley. He later set up Obertan to score, but the winger fired over the bar. Newcastle were dominating the game at this point and despite a Brunt shot firing just wide, it looked as if an equaliser would soon be theirs. It eventually came in the 81st minute when Ba (who else?) made it 2-2 following some lovely work with Ben Arfa, before firing past Foster from the edge of the area. This goal gave Newcastle the impetus to push for the winner and shortly after, Foster had to save a rasping 30-yard shot from Vuckic.

With five minutes left, it was anyone's game; however Paul Scharner had something to say about this. Beautiful play from Long down the wing found Odemwingie in the box who's brilliant cushioned header found Scharner to steer home from 10 yards out, sparking wild celebrations in the highest heights of Newcastle. Foster made sure the lead was not lost again and pulled off a fine save from Ryan Taylor near the end.

The final whistle blew much to the joy of the Albion faithful after some very nervy final minutes. 6 points from two away games just before the Christmas break was exactly what many fans had wanted for Christmas, and our first ever three points (it was 2 points for a win back in 1977) at Newcastle was a present that would have seemed quite unlikely a month or two ago.

This was Newcastle's second home defeat of the season and their fourth loss in the past six matches. The way the game went meant many of their fans had justified reasons to be annoyed, but hearing boos from the home crowd was something Pardew and his team do not deserve after the season they have had.

Considering the Albion had never won away in December in the Premiership, to have won twice in a row shows how things have changed at the club and nicely sets up a Boxing Day cracker against league leaders Manchester City. Would it be too much for us to ask Santa for something from that game?

Man of the Match: Shane Long. The Baggies striker just seems to be getting better game upon game. Despite not scoring he provided some excellent balls to the team and was a real nuisance for Newcastle with his constant running, shooting and crossing wherever possible. His contribution to the third goal was the icing on the cake for Super Shane.

Newcastle United: Krul; Simpson, Perch, Coloccini, Santon (R Taylor 46); Obertan (Sh Ameobi 72), Vuckic, Tiote, Gutierrez; Best (Ben Arfa 61), Ba. Subs: Elliot (gk), Williamson, Abeid, Sammy Ameobi

West Bromwich Albion: Foster; Reid (Jones 6), McAuley, Olsson, Shorey; Thomas (Dorrans 68), Scharner, Mulumbu (Thorne 76), Brunt; Long, Odemwingie. Unused Subs: Fulop, Fortune, Dawson, Cox
Alex Horton

Total articles: 18

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