Newcastle 0-1 West Brom: Matt Phillips strikes as Baggies live to fight another day
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 28/04/18 6:36pm
West Brom lived to fight another day in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle at St. James' Park.
Matt Phillips' 29th-minute strike proved enough to overcome a lacklustre Newcastle outfit as Darren Moore extended his unbeaten run as Baggies caretaker to four games.
Newcastle struck the post and saw Ben Foster pull off a stunning save to keep a Dwight Gayle header out in a frustrating performance, although they will take comfort from the fact their top-flight status is secure.
The same, however, cannot be said for the Baggies, whose end-of-season rally looks to have come too late to prevent relegation.
Victory leaves them with a glimmer of hope of avoiding the drop but Swansea can seal their fate if they beat Chelsea on Saturday evening.
Newcastle: Dubravka (6), Yedlin (6), Lejeune (6), Lascelles (6), Dummett (6), Ritchie (7), Diame (6), Shelvey (6), Kenedy (6), Perez (5), Gayle (5).
Subs: Murphy (6), Joselu (5), Slimani (4).
West Brom: Foster (8), Nyom (7), Dawson (7), Hegazi (7), Gibbs (6), Phillips (8), Livermore (7), McClean (6), Brunt (7), Rodriguez (8), Rondon (7).
Subs: Evans (n/a), Krychowiak (5), Robson-Kanu (n/a).
Man of the Match: Matt Phillips.
With both teams struggling to assert themselves in the opening exchanges, it took until 17 minutes for the first effort on target, Gayle drawing a save from Foster with a pop shot from 20 yards.
From there on, though, the Baggies steadily grabbed the initiative, spurning two chances before finally breaking the deadlock as Jake Livermore's lofted pass released Phillips and he clinically fired past Martin Dubravka.
Newcastle so nearly found an immediate response as Kenedy played a neat one-two with Ayoze Perez to get in behind the West Brom defence, but his low, toe poke clipped the outside of the post on 34 minutes.
Newcastle pushed hard for an equaliser before the break but Mohamed Diame saw his attempt to convert a Florian Lejeune knockdown deflect behind for a corner from which a wonder save from Foster clawed Gayle's goal-bound header away from goal.
Rafa Benitez made one change to the Newcastle side after Monday’s defeat at Everton as Dwight Gayle replaced Islam Slimani up front. Darren Moore named an unchanged West Brom side after their dramatic 2-2 draw Liverpool.
Newcastle returned with much greater intensity but continued to look vulnerable at the back with Rodriguez mis-hitting a 53rd-minute attempt from Phillips' knockdown and Rondon slicing wastefully wide from Livermore's pass eight minutes later.
Chris Brunt whistled a long-range effort just wide with 21 minutes remaining, but the Magpies continued to pile forward in search of an equaliser as substitute Joselu headed wide on 85 minutes.
2 - Darren Moore has won more Premier League matches in four games in charge at West Bromwich Albion than Alan Pardew did in 18 for the Baggies. Hope.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 28, 2018
As their hopes of a comeback faded, frustration appeared to get the better of Newcastle, with Islam Slimani kicking out at defender Craig Dawson in an ugly incident which could yield more severe consequences.
- In just four games, Darren Moore (W2 D2 L0) has won more Premier League games for West Brom than Alan Pardew (W1 D5 L12), and as many as Tony Pulis (W2 D4 L6) did for the Baggies this season.
- West Brom kept their first league clean sheet at St James' Park since September 1977, ending a run of 15 straight games in which they'd conceded at the ground.
- Newcastle have lost back-to-back league games for the first time since a run of four in December.
- This was Rafael Benitez's first Premier League defeat against West Brom as manager (W7 D1 L1), meaning Stoke are now the side he's faced the most without defeat in the competition (7 games).
- Matt Phillips' goal was his first in 22 games in all competitions for West Brom, since netting against Manchester City in October.
- There were 15 shots in total in the second half in this game (10 for Newcastle, 5 West Brom), but none were on target.
Jake Livermore was quick and alert to lay on the winning goal for Phillips, and he could have had another assist had Salomon Rondon converted another chance in the second half. However, you could argue Livermore’s selfless defensive performance further strengthened his claim to be on the plane to Russia. It proved to be a frustrating afternoon for Jonjo Shelvey as his bid to convince Gareth Southgate to include him in his squad was dampened by his side’s lethargic display.
Rafa Benitez: "After the great season we have done, it's a pity to see this kind of game. We made too many mistakes, gave the ball away easily, didn't understand how to attack a team that defended well and didn't stop the counter attacks. Many things we have been doing well this season went wrong today."
Darren Moore: "We did everything that was asked coming to a difficult arena and a very good team. Everyone to a man performed, it was a solid performance and we needed that to get a result."
Man of the Match - Matt Phillips
The Scotland international's energetic performance proved to be a thorn in Newcastle's side all afternoon. Often the instigator of pressure-relieving counter-attacks, Phillips showed great composure to take his only clear chance of the contest, securing an unlikely victory which left the Baggies with the slightest of survival chances.
Newcastle travel to Watford and West Brom host Tottenham at The Hawthorns in their final home game of the season on Saturday.