The Two Halves Of Newcastle United
Following the 1-1 draw at West Brom, Newcastle are now teetering over the precipice as they lost the safety blanket of teams sandwiched between themselves and the relegation zone.
Victories for Norwich, Stoke and Sunderland dropped the Magpies into 16th place in worrying reach of Aston Villa and Wigan. Whilst a trip to the Hawthorns was always likely to be tricky, the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the performance and the other results confirm this as a case of two points unfortunately squandered.
Even the most ardent West Brom fans would find it difficult to argue that Newcastle should have gone into the break with at least a two goal advantage. Gouffran’s opener was followed by a succession of chances, the most gilt-edged falling to Cisse who failed to capitalise on a sloppy back pass. Taylor and Debuchy were also guilty of wasting good openings in a half that Newcastle controlled from start to finish.
With Cabaye looking back to his best pulling the strings from deep, there was an assured composure in possession that has all too often been absent this season. Sissoko and Cisse as a combination posed a constant threat, linking well on several occasions.
Aside from Mike Jones’ controversial decision to award a free kick rather than a penalty for Perch’s challenge on Billy Jones, West Brom failed to create anything of note.
However, in an eerily similar showing to the performance at Villa Park earlier in the season, Newcastle disappointingly failed to maintain the first half standards and were lucky in the end to escape with a point. With the equaliser coming as early as the 64th minute following a sustained spell of substantial pressure, a winner only ever looked likely to come for the home side.
The midfield which had controlled proceedings in the first half failed to relieve the onslaught with any spell of possession and no further chances were created. The introduction of Ameobi provided a reasonable outlet but Ben Arfa’s introduction failed to ignite the desired change in the balance of play.
Whether it comes down to a fault in Pardew’s tactics or complacency on the players’ behalf, the contrast between the two halves really does confirm this as a wasted opportunity to record a victory.
With the other results in the bottom half going against Newcastle, it could also prove to be a costly one.
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