A Fan's View: Newcastle 2 Albion 3
By Site Editor
Updated Thursday, 22nd December 2011
DonnyValdo gives his verdict on Albion's win
Albion recorded their second away win in the space of four days after goals from Peter Odemwingie, Gareth McAuley and Paul Scharner recorded the Baggies’ first win at Newcastle in the league since 1977.
The Baggies made only one change that left it late to beat Blackburn with Jerome Thomas coming in for the injured James Morrison. Roy Hodgson continued with Chris Brunt playing in his favoured position on the left.
The late goal at Blackburn – and more importantly, the confidence it brought, was evident as Albion started well. Passes were slick and the movement was clever and interchangeable. However our bright start was hampered when Steven Reid was injured and replaced by Billy Jones inside the first ten minutes. Jones did well earlier in the season when called upon, but it would be a test against the tricky Gutierrez.
Newcastle, and the in-form Ba, had a few half chances which were quickly snuffed out by the alert Foster before the first goal of the evening. The hosts broke down Albion’s left with Nicky Shorey cleverly intercepting the through ball and finding Brunt unmarked in the middle of the park. The Northern Ireland international played a fantastic ball with the outside of the left boot perfectly into the path of the on-rushing Peter Odemwingie. Toon defender Coloccini tried to pull back the Nigerian but there was no stopping him as he curled the ball perfectly around Tim Krul. A wonderful goal by all involved. Brilliance from Brunt; and a glimpse of the Peter Odemwingie of last season.
Newcastle thought they had equalised immediately but Ba’s volley was ruled offside after Best headed the ball back to his strike partner from an offside position.
Albion were played the ball around comfortably in midfield with Scharner and Mulumbu breaking up play and distributing to the effective Brunt and Thomas. Brunt, who has looked as though he’s been playing in sand for most of this season, looked a man reborn on the left. Although his crossing was not up to scratch, he looked far more threatening with the ball at his feet. Thomas was also a willing runner down the right.
It looked as though Albion would be next to score with attacks down the flanks paying dividends and Long and Pistol-Pete worrying the Geordie back line with their pace. However, in typical Albion fashion it was Newcastle who equalised. Thomas felled Obertan after Brunt had been blocked off 20-yards from goal. Ba stepped up and powered the ball past Foster. In my opinion the ‘keeper should’ve saved the effort after getting a hand on the ball.
But back came the Baggies. Mulumbu was tripped ten yards inside the Newcastle half. The big men went forward. Brunt curled the ball deep. Scharner stayed cool and headed back to the unmarked McAuley to head home the easiest of headers. Albion went into the break deservedly 2-1 up.
After the break
The composure that Albion had on the ball continued despite the Geordie faithful trying to rally their side. A high defensive line by Newcastle meant that any through ball had a chance of finding the rapid Long or Odemwingie. Mulumbu did just that as he fed the Irishman who outpaced Coloccini, rounded Krul but hit his shot off the crossbar when the goal gaped. A let off for Newcastle and a massive chance for us to secure the points only seconds into the final 45 minutes.
Yet the pressure you’d expect to be under never came. The back four were solid. McAuley Shepparding Ba well. Scharner and Mulumbu were again controlling the midfield and using the ball cleverly. I’ve never seen us look so dangerous on the counter-attack in the Premier League. Doubters of Hodgson’s methods were nowhere to be found or heard.
For all of the effort Albion had put into the game fatigue started to show. Mulumbu limped off with a groin injury and was replaced by the developing Thorne. Jones went down moments later with cramp. As Albion tried to reorganise, Ba found a yard on the edge of the area and hammered a shot past Foster. Not much he could do with that one. Again, somehow, Albion found themselves level. I must admit I feared the worst.
I shouldn’t have. Thorne played an excellent ball with his left foot to find Long out wide. The Irish forward powered past Coloccini and played a deep cross towards the head of Peter Odemwingie. The Nigerian did brilliantly to head back for the waiting Paul Scharner who toe-poked the ball past Krul and again restore our lead. The Austrian, who looked a little surprised to score, quickly regained his composure and led the boinging in the away end.
Last season’s game at SJP saw Albion come down from three goals to earn a point. Newcastle thought they had done just the same when former Albion-target Cheick Tiote met a corner and powered a near post effort towards the Albion net. Foster superbly blocked with his calf away for another corner.
Despite three minutes of injury time, Albion held on this time to the lead to match the efforts of Regis, Robson, and Cunningham et al of 34 years ago. Victories like this make me so proud to be a Baggie.
Bring on City.
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