A vital win saw us climb out of the bottom three on a day when we should have won with much more to spare against a truly awful West Brom side. Perez and Saivet were dropped from the Goodison horror show – does McLaren see it as ‘easy’ to drop Ayoze? He shouldn’t. Dummett and Mbemba were injured so in came Aarons, Tiote, Steven Taylor and Mitrovic and we were the better side from the word go.
Townsend and Shelvey tested Foster with shots from outside the area in the opening minutes and Mitrovic had a golden chance when a hacked clearance from a corner fell to him but he drew a fine reaction save from Foster from six yards out – should have scored but it was a good stop. West Brom were limited to howking long balls up to five-stone overweight Anichebe and their general lack of shape was startling – I thought Berahino looked to be carrying a load of timber when he came on later too – hardly the look of a £30m striker and symptomatic of the rot under Pulis.
Sissoko whipped a low cross in that Mitrovic seemed to only need to waft a toe at to put us ahead but it evaded him before it looked like we had taken the lead from an unlikely source. Tiote shot from outside the area and the ball looked to move in the air, wrongfooting Foster without having much power behind it. Tiote raced to the bench to celebrate while the Albion players surrounded the ref. After some deliberation with the linesman, who hadn’t raised his flag, the goal was ruled out. The decision was probably right but I’m not quite sure how it was reached given that the lino seemingly hadn’t spotted it? It didn’t feel quite as unjust as the one the poor bugger had ruled off against Man City a couple of seasons ago and it was quickly forgotten when we took the lead a couple of minutes later.
Shelvey picked a perfect pass to split the defence and play in Mitrovic and for once he kept his cool and slotted a lovely finish under Foster to put us ahead. I thought he led the line pretty well today and there are some signs of ability there but the goals simply must become more regular, especially as Doumbia is yet to figure at all. West Brom had a chance themselves as the half drew to a close when Janmaat threw himself of the utterly twatful McCLean, unfortunately failing to remove his leg at the knee in the process and we went in one up.
Tubby Berahino and some annoying little ginger twat came on at the break for them but the momentum was still very much with us. Townsend worked the space for a lovely dinked cross that Wijnaldum headed over with the goal gaping and the winger then hit the post with a curling effort from the edge of the box. I’ll openly say that I had my head in my hands when we signed Townsend but he was canny today and is certainly direct. A lovely bit of interplay between Wijnaldum and Sissoko saw the latter shoot just wide from inside the box and Sissoko shot weakly at Foster after a lung busting run from the half way line.
Nerves were setting in, not because West Brom had offered anything but because we should have been out of sight and our worst fears were nearly realised when a break away ended with a McClean cross that flashed across our box, luckily evading attackers and defenders alike and then at the death, substitute Rondon had the opportunity to play Berahino in for a certain goal before Janmaat managed to get across to scramble clear.
To say that we were worth the three points would be an understatement and with other results going our way, we clawed ourselves out of the relegation zone, with Norwich seemingly dropping like a stone. No-one expects us to get something at Chelsea next weekend but we can’t afford to just write it off – they have improved under Hiddink but are still a long way from formidable and with a huge gap before our next game, we can’t be stewing on a hiding for three weeks. Great to have three points, but a long long way to go yet.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Eliott 6, JANMAAT 8, Taylor 7, Coloccini 7, Aarons 7, Tiote 7, Shelvey 7 (Saivet n/a), Sissoko 7, Wijnaldum 6, Townsend 7 (Perez n/a) Mitrovic 7
Ref – Mason – 7 – The offside was offside and I thought he handled it well
Our Fans – 6 – Great turnout, bit nervy but relieved
Their Fans – 3 – Poorest I can remember them up here, albeit that they are absolutely sick of Pulis.
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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