It was a tale of two halves at the Hawthorns. Well, all football matches are tales of two halves. But this one, a 1-1 draw contested between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United, was a tale of very different halves.
West Brom don't have much left to play for and it showed in a sloppy first half. Newcastle were well on top and they continued to press despite taking an early lead thanks to an uncharacteristic Ben Foster error. The goalkeeper came out too far on a Papiss Cisse cross, and Yoann Gouffran made the most of his opportunity, heading into an unguarded net.
Foster soon found redemption. The former England man was forced into a smart stop after Steven Taylor(!) had somehow contrived to beat the offside trap, palming the defender's flick behind from a corner, and from the set piece he had to be alert to beat away Yohan Cabaye's 25-yard effort. Newcastle should still have gone further ahead before halftime, however -- Cisse took advantage of Jonas Olsson's terrible backpass but his odd first-time shot ended up ballooning into the stands.
Eventually, Steve Clarke managed to persuade his men that they should at least fake some sort of effort, and the Baggies started to get back into the game in the dying seconds of the first half. They should have been awarded a penalty when Simon Perch made a terrible sliding challenge on Billy Jones a full yard inside the box only for Mike Jones to give a free kick instead, and more poor fortune befell the hosts as they pushed for an equaliser.
West Brom saw Robert Elliot save brilliantly from Shane Long after fluffing a long-ranger off the boot of Marc-Antoine Fortune and then, in the middle of a series of corners, were hugely unlucky that Romelu Lukaku's thumping header found the crossbar rather than the roof of the net. Eventually, though, they made the breakthrough, with Jones running onto Lukaku's layoff to slot in from close range with 64 minutes gone.
The hosts didn't stop attacking after their goal, either, and Elliot was called into action once more when James Morrison found himself unmarked from Gorav Popov's cross. Happily for Newcastle, the header was saveable, and Elliot hurled himself to his left to tip the effort over the bar. Despite the pressure, the Newcastle defence would somehow manage to hold out through the rest of the second half, giving them a... not very vital point, I guess. Ok!