Newcastle 1-0 West Brom: Aleksandar Mitrovic earns Magpies win
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 06/02/16 10:20pm
Newcastle climbed out of the relegation zone as Aleksandar Mitrovic's first-half goal secured a 1-0 home win over West Brom on Saturday.
The Magpies striker slotted home Jonjo Shelvey's measured pass (32), quietening the home fans' frustrations after Cheick Tiote's low strike was controversially ruled out for offside two minutes before in the Premier League clash at St James' Park.
West Brom failed to test Rob Elliot and substitute Salomon Rondon wasted a golden opportunity in stoppage time, but the forward's pass to an unmarked Saido Berahino was behind the striker.
A first win in three games combined with Aston Villa's victory over Norwich means Newcastle move up to 17th in the table, while the Baggies remain 14th, six points above the relegation zone.
Steve McClaren made four changes from the defeat to Everton, and the home side enjoyed 77 per cent of possession in a one-sided first half.
The impressive Shelvey tested Ben Foster from range, and the West Brom goalkeeper brilliantly denied Mitrovic with a reflex stop as the Magpies started the game on top.
Mitrovic and Georginio Wijnaldum were caught on their heels when Moussa Sissoko's low cross along the six-yard box required a simple tap-in, leaving McClaren visibly frustrated on the sideline.
Mitrovic did give his side the lead on 32 minutes, but only after a moment of controversy involving the Serb as Tiote's long-range strike was ruled out with the striker in an offside position.
Tiote's shot wrong-footed Foster but the 'keeper felt Mitrovic, clearly standing ahead of the play, interfered with his line of sight, and referee Lee Mason agreed, disallowing the goal after a conversation with his assistant.
Two minutes later, Mitrovic put the Magpies in front with his fifth league goal of the season, latching on to Shelvey's pass to slide underneath the onrushing Foster.
Craig Gardner wasted a free kick on the edge of the box before carving out the visitors' best chance of the first half, but Daryl Janmaat superbly deflected James McClean's effort over the bar.
Tony Pulis introduced Berahino, who was the subject of a bid from the Magpies in the transfer window, and Alex Pritchard at the break, but the momentum stayed with the home side.
Wijnaldum squandered a free header after Andros Townsend's cross picked out the forward, before Townsend hit the post himself with a low effort that had Foster beaten.
Newcastle continued to lay siege to the West Brom goal, and only wayward finishing from Sissoko prevented McClaren's side from adding to their lead with 20 minutes to play.
But their failure to make the game safe nearly came back to haunt the Magpies as Pulis threw on Rondon in the final stages, and the Baggies nearly carved out an unlikely leveller.
Pritchard went close with a free kick from 30 yards, while another low centre by McClean caused chaos in the Newcastle box with no West Brom striker on hand to finish.
They saved their best opportunity for last but Rondon failed to pick out Berahino deep into five minutes of stoppage time, allowing Janmaat to scramble clear as Newcastle earned their first clean sheet in 10 league games.
The defeat means West Brom, without a win in their last seven league games on their travels, have now averaged less than a goal a game under Pulis, and they face Peterborough in their FA Cup replay on Wednesday night.
Newcastle travel to Stamford Bridge next weekend boosted by impressive performances from their January signings as both Townsend and Shelvey earned standing ovations in the closing minutes.
Phil Thompson - Soccer Saturday reaction
Everything about this side was great, I could go on to talk about West Brom and their deficiencies, but I think everything about this Newcastle team was just terrific, and all that was missing was more goals.
Everybody was an eight out of 10 today. You wouldn't have thought they'd be in problems except maybe for West Brom because of how poor they were.
There's not one of those players, apart from maybe [Ben] Foster, who did anything to enhance West Brom's reputation. I don't think they had one shot on target, even with set plays normally you think they could get something but nothing. Shocking and dreadful.
Newcastle: Elliot (6), Janmaat (7), Taylor (6), Coloccini (6), Aarons (6), Townsend (8), Shelvey (7), Tiote (7), Sissoko (7), Wijnaldum (6), Mitrovic (8)
Subs used: Perez (6), Saivet (6)
West Brom: Foster (6), Olsson (6), Chester (6), Yacob (5), Gardner (6), Anichebe (5), McClean (6), McAuley (6), Fletcher (6), Dawson (6), Sandro (5)
Subs used: Berahino (6), Pritchard (6), Rondon (5)
Man of the match: Aleksandar Mitrovic