Date: Saturday 12th December 2020, 3.00pm.
Live on Sky Sports
Venue: St. James' Park
West Bromwich Albion
2 - 1
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
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
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
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
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
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."
"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
"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
"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
"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."
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 in that competition without getting any pitch time.
ninth custodian on that list, following John Burridge, Tony Caig, Fraser
Forster, Mark Gillespie, Peter Keen, Lionel Perez, Ole Soderberg and
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
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
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
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
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
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.