Saturday, February 7, 2009

West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Newcastle United

Newcastle overcame the enforced absence of manager Joe Kinnear as an inspired display from Damien Duff helped them to achieve their first win in seven Barclays Premier League games with a 3-2 triumph at West Brom.

Chris Hughton was in charge of the Magpies after Kinnear had been taken to hospital as a "precautionary measure'' after feeling unwell at the team hotel.

But goals from Duff, Peter Lovenkrands and Steve Taylor helped lift some of the gloom surrounding Newcastle and sent bottom placed Albion hurtling closer to the relegation trapdoor.

Duff was a constant threat with his pace and trickery while veteran Nicky Butt and new signing Ryan Taylor also made important contributions.

But Newcastle would be the first to acknowledge they were helped by some appalling defending by the home side.

Centre-backs Leon Barnett and Abdoulaye Meite were all at sea and completely lacking in understanding while goalkeeper Scott Carson hardly inspired confidence.

On loan Marc Antoine-Fortune netted a brace for the home side, who dominated the second period territorially.

But this was a game they could not afford to lose and they will have to tighten up drastically in the final third of the season to have any hope of moving out of the bottom three.

The Magpies handed a debut to Ryan Taylor following his move from Wigan and handed a first start to Lovenkrands after two substitute appearances.

Newcastle got off to a dream start by taking the lead through Duff after just 75 seconds, following a mistake from Barnett.

Shola Ameobi tried to pick out the run of Duff. Barnett should have cut out the pass, only to stumble and allow the winger a clear run at goal. Duff had all the time in the world to steady himself before drilling the past Scott Carson.

The home side quickly retaliated and in the fourth minute drew level through Fortune.

Butt gave away possession and this was seized upon by Albion playmaker Borja Valero, who threaded the ball through to Fortune.

He took advantage of a slip on the edge of the box by Steven Taylor and fired a low shot past Steve Harper into the corner of the net.

Lovenkrands restored Newcastle's lead after nine minutes, volleying in from 15 yards after Butt's cross was volleyed back across goal by Ryan Taylor.

Fabricio Coloccini came to Newcastle's rescue when he blocked a goalbound shot from James Morrison after good play by Valero, who had shepherded the ball away from Harper.

But the fragile nature of the Baggies defence meant United always looked capable of scoring when they ventured forward.

Ryan Taylor would have been disappointed not to have at least hit the target when he dragged a shot wide from 15 yards out when in space.

But the Albion defence was non-existent when Steven Taylor stretched Newcastle's lead after 41 minutes.

Ryan Taylor's corner flew straight across the box with Meite ball-watching as Steven Taylor sent a glancing header into the corner of the net.

Mowbray made a double substitution at the start of the second half with Roman Bednar and Filipe Teixeira replacing Chris Brunt and Kim Do-Heon respectively.

Morrison was not too wide of the mark with a curling 20-yard effort but the Magpies looked relatively comfortable in protecting their advantage.

Duff came close to making it 4-1 with an angled drive which flew just past the far post after he had dispossessed Carl Hoefkens.

Barnett and Kevin Nolan were booked after confronting each other with the Newcastle midfielder unhappy with a challenge on Ameobi who needed treatment.

With 18 minutes left Albion reduced the arrears in controversial circumstances.

Bednar was down injured and Newcastle players were urging the home side to kick the ball out of play so he could receive treatment.

But Albion played on and Koren slipped the ball through to Fortune, who hammered home his second goal of the game.

Valero came close to making it 3-3 when his glancing header from a Robinson cross flew just wide - but the Magpies held on for victory.

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