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Season 2020-21
West Bromwich Albion (h) Premier League

 

 
Date:
Saturday 12th December 2020, 3.00pm.
Live on Sky Sports


Venue:
 St. James' Park

Conditions: Healthy

Newcastle

West Bromwich Albion

2 - 1

 

Teams

Goals

19.8 secs The hosts kicked off and the ball reached the edge of the United box, where Isaac Hayden controlled it and played a pass out to Jamal Lewis out by the touchline.

He pumped the ball over the halfway line, Branislav Ivanovic miscuing his challenge and allowing Callum Wilson gaining possession. He scampered forward and found Joelinton infield, who put the ball into the path of Miguel Almiron with a perfectly-weighted pass.

The Paraguayan had the simple task of stroking the ball left-footed into the corner of the Leazes End goal with the tenth Toon touch of the move. Brutal. Brilliant. 1-0

Half time: Magpies 1 Baggies 0

50 mins Matt Phillips made some space to put over a cross from the left. There appeared no danger as it fell to Lewis but the defender took a step back, allowing Darnell Furlong to sprint towards the ball and volley it past Karl Darlow into the corner.

Furlong's father Paul netted at the other end of the ground in the colours of Chelsea back in September 1994.  1-1

82 mins Newcastle substitute Jacob Murphy steadied himself before putting over the perfect cross from the United right, bisecting two defenders and dropping onto Dwight Gayle's head. The ex-Baggie loanee made no mistake, heading into the top corner and in off the bar. 2-1

Full time: Magpies 2 Baggies 1

We Said

Steve Bruce commented:

"I couldn't be more pleased.

"With the problems we've had, the work they've done at home or parks or whatever - I couldn't speak highly enough of them. Their effort and endeavour was spot on.

"I didn't want to make excuses but I was expecting it, especially from those who have had the virus. It was about watching them that had it. You are mindful of that of course.

"Fair play to them and thankfully they are OK. But I couldn't have wished for a better start."

"I can't give enough credit to the players and the staff who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes over the last couple of weeks, and certainly the medical department whose decision to shut us down was spot on.

"We had three players who played today who had the virus, but it is about the after-effects and the way they recover.

"We've still got two or three who are poorly with it now, so I'm delighted for everyone concerned because it's been a really challenging 10 days or so.

"We've just got to try and find that consistency because the Premier League is so demanding.

"We've got a good couple of wins and a huge month coming up and we could do with a fully fit squad, so let's brush it down and try not to get carried away yet - but I couldn't be more pleased.

"
We tried to play it down and we weren't looking for any excuses but they've stuck together. I think we finished with three midfielders in the back four.

"First and foremost, it was how can I win this match with what we've got? It's one of them decisions you make and hope it comes off. To play two wide players as full-backs is a bit of a risk because
(Albion) were probably in the ascendancy and they caught us cold in the second half.

"When you've got a striker like Dwight available then you want him on the pitch, but then I also needed some service into him, so we sacrificed the full backs."

On Isaac Hayden:

"
I didn't think I would have him until last Monday, so for him to get out of bed and produce a performance like that was great to see.

"Isaac was in bed for 10 days and inevitably the three I was checking were the three who had the virus. You can be negative but the fatigue is key to it and the magnitude and the way it ripped through everybody was frightening.

"I said to (Hayden) on Wednesday that my old chief scout Stan Ternent watched him as a kid at Arsenal and said 'he's an outstanding centre half' and it stayed with me.

"One of the reasons I took him to Hull was the insistence of Stan. I played him in midfield; he was only a boy, but I remembered that this week and to be honest, we didn't have that many options, although he was one of the poorly ones.

Hayden himself added:

"I was in bed for ten days and couldn't do anything. I had it (COVID) quite bad so to have two or three days training and play a game in the Premier League wasn't easy but the lads stuck to it and came through with the three points."

Hayden's whatsapp message to the squad group chat post-match was reported by The Athletic to be:

"11 days doing nothing, 3 days training, play, win, easy enough hey?"
complete with a laughing emoji.

(Federico Fernandez subsequently took to social media and commented, "...happy to be back with the team after being cured of COVID.")

They Said

 

Slaven Bilic

"I think we deserved something from the game. We had a really bad start. We gave a cheap goal away in the first minute.

"In the first half they were stronger than us. They were first to the second balls. They were better in 50-50s.

"We had a much better mentality in the second half. We were brighter, stronger, better. We equalised, and then the game became stretched after that. We had waves. They had waves.

We were trying to get into the pockets with Filip and Conor. We kept getting into good situations, but we didn’t turn those situations into chances.

"They put one cross in and they scored the winner - we should’ve had enough bodies to stop it. We are all very disappointed. It was a game of very fine margins.

"We’re going home empty-handed and that hurts."

About his tenure: 

"It's not a question for me as I am doing my job and I don't get those signals or that information.

"It's about the result of course, but today we showed again that we are there in the game to the end. We showed the character and the mentality and the quality to some degree, and the team is very much alive.

"It was a game of little margins in the end - they scored incredibly early from a situation from which we had to do better, and after that their physicality and quality up front was better than ours.

"But in the second half it was more a change of bravery and mentality, and we were good - we scored the goal but we didn't create enough clear-cut chances and again we conceded a goal that we have to stop."

 

Stats


NUFC top 5 quickest PL goals:

Jan 2003 Manchester City (h) Alan Shearer 10 seconds
Dec 2020 West Brom (h) Miguel Almiron 20 seconds
Jul 2020 Liverpool (h) Dwight Gayle 25 seconds
Jan 1996 Arsenal (h) David Ginola 56 seconds
Mar 2004 Charlton Athletic (h) Alan Shearer 57 seconds

Miguel Almiron scored a first PL goal of the season and his fifth in that competition. The Paraguayan now has double figures in all competitions, having also scored one in the League Cup and four in the FA Cup (the latter total including a brace against Albion last season).

Almiron's opener was the 1,300th goal scored by Newcastle in the Premier League. It came during the club's 969th game.

Dwight Gayle also got off the mark for the season, moving on to 34 goals in our colours (all in the league). Today was his 11th PL strike, which moved him one ahead of Leon Best, Paul Kitson and Aleksandar Mitrovic. He's now level with Nicos Dabizas, Robbie Elliott, Keith Gillespie, Yoan Gouffran, Salomon Rondon, Moussa Sissoko, Steve Watson and Gini Wijnaldum.

The striker came off the bench to score within 13 minutes - admirable but not in the same time zone as his other PL goal for the club as a substitute; taking just 94 seconds to do the same at home to Aston Villa last season.

United's PL scoring total for the season advanced to 14 and another one was added to their first half tally, but that's still only three in the first 45 minutes - and the other 11 after the break.

This was Newcastle's first 3pm Saturday KO since Southampton (a) back in March, the last game before the first lockdown.

Baggies in Toon - Premier League:

2020/21 won 2-1 Almiron, Gayle
2017/18
lost 0-1
2015/16 won 1-0 Mitrovic
2014/15 drew 1-1 Perez
2013/14 won 2-1 Gouffran, Sissoko
2012/13 won 2-1 Ba, Cisse
2011/12 lost 2-3 Ba 2
2010/11 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

There was a first Premier League substitute role for goalkeeper Dan Langley, who became the 42nd player to have been named on the bench for The Magpies without getting any pitch time. He's the custodian on that list, following John Burridge, Tony Caig, Fraser Forster, Mark Gillespie, Peter Keen, Lionel Perez, Ole Soderberg and Freddie Woodman. 
 

Waffle


 

Saturday saw Newcastle record back to back Premier League victories for the first time this season - thanks to the timely return of Dwight Gayle.

Ahead after just 20 seconds of the first half through Miguel Almiron, the hosts failed to build on that early advantage and were punished when Darnell Furlong levelled five minutes into the second half.

In need of inspiration, Steve Bruce sent on Gayle for his first game of the season and the striker quickly saw a header cleared off Albion's goal line. However, Gayle wasn't to be denied a comeback goal and with eight minutes of normal time remaining, met a gorgeous deep cross from fellow substitute and Baggies old boy Jacob Murphy, to restore Newcastle's advantage.

Despite fears that United would be short-handed following their recent COVID issues, eight of the side who started at Crystal Palace retained their place.

Absent were Federico Fernandez and Javier Manquillo, while Jeff Hendrick was in the squad but on the bench. Fabian Schar and Mark Gillespie were also missing from the squad at Selhurst Park, while Jamaal Lascelles, Ryan Fraser, Allan Saint-Maximin, Martin Dubravka and Paul Dummett remained out.

Beginning with five men in midfield and a three man defence including Isaac Hayden, United switched to a four man backline following their opening goal.

Any thoughts of ring-rustiness following an enforced two week break from play soon disintegrated after Callum Wilson pushed forward down the left, Joelinton helped the ball across the box and Almiron was on hand to fire home at the Leazes End - all within 20 seconds of the first whistle.

Almiron and Joelinton both tested visiting goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, but Albion came more into the game as half time neared - Newcastle seemingly content to try and soak up increasing pressure.

With just three away goals to their name so far this season, the Baggies came close to levelling on 42 minutes; Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher seeing his first time shot flash wide of Karl Darlow's goal.

United failed to respond to the threat of their opponents however and a double switch at the interval and a formational tweak soon paid dividends as Jamal Lewis waited in vain for a ball from the Albion left to drop and Furlong nipped in to brilliantly steer a shot home from near the edge of the box.

Despite a supposed player shortage, United still had enough options on their bench to tweak their own slumbering line-up - and those changes proved decisive in regaining the initiative and the lead.

As most teams this season have found, Slaven Bilic's defence crumble under pressure and once we actually started going forward and sending early and accurate crosses over, the inevitable happened.

The closing stages saw Newcastle look to protect their lead and introduce DeAndre Yedlin for his first league action of the current campaign.

Had there been a crowd inside SJP, Wilson's Alan Shearer impression by the corner flag to run the clock down in added time would surely have been cheered to the echo.

Stand-in defender Hayden missed out on a deserved ovation at the final whistle meanwhile, after a solid display that belied the fact he'd been laid low by COVID and only just returned to training.

Much was made after our last game of the Wilson/Joelinton front pair, but today's first sighting of a Wilson/Gayle partnership was just as positive.

While Wilson has rightly been hailed a success for seven goals in 10 PL games (one every 126 minutes), Gayle has netted five in his ten outings since June and is currently scoring with greater regularity (one every 98 minutes).

Quite what the future holds for Gayle remains to be seen, with his contract ending next summer. If it comes down to a straight choice though, extending the deal of this 30 year-old has to be a better bet than the spent force that is Andy Carroll - 32 next month. 

Kevin Keegan knew after that FA Cup tie at Anfield that it was time to pack in; Carroll's ineffectiveness in the League Cup at Newport should be taken in a similar vein. Sadly for us though, the only time in recent years Gayle has remained fit for a full season was when he was loaned out to West Brom.

Back to back victories then, and the fact that both were achieved without Allan Saint-Maximin on the field won't have escaped the Head Coach.

After the issues that have beset us in recent weeks, the only thing that truly mattered today was a positive result against mediocre opposition. Thankfully that was achieved, even if the manner wasn't always particularly convincing. 

It's nice not to be completely reliant on the scoring prowess of one player and encouraging that we've managed more than one goal in successive league games for the first time this season. Consistently playing at a higher level and actually developing as a team is something else entirely though. 

Biffa


Page last updated 13 December, 2020