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Opinion

3 Positives and 3 Negatives from West Brom 2 Newcastle 3

7 months ago
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Tuesday night ended West Brom 2 Newcastle 3.

Newcastle United controlling the first half and should have had the game won by the break, going in 2-0 up with two excellent Miguel Almiron goals.

A gift from the home keeper for Lazaro on 47 minutes looked to have ensured a comfortable second half, only for Steve Bruce to almost throw it away with poor substitutions and game-management, allowing West Brom to come within one goal of extra-time.

Ahead of each match we ask one of our writers to come up with 3 positives and 3 negatives following the game.

This time it is Jack Lacey-Hatton:

POSITIVES

We are in the Quarter-Finals!

It didn’t matter how, and it didn’t really matter that our league form has been awful recently, this was always going to be a special night if we got through however we did it.

It doesn’t matter a jot that we were playing a championship team (with nine first teamers missing), it was a joy to watch Newcastle attack the first half of a cup tie with real vigour and fully deserve a two goal lead at half time. We were playing well, the forwards looked a threat and the away end was in full voice. These are the moments to be savoured over the course of a hard slog of a season.

To still be in the cup going into the real business end of the season makes a huge difference and it is nice to still have hope of a day at Wembley. If we get a home tie in round six, whoever the opposition, St James’ will be full of noise and hope, something that has been severely lacking at times this season.

Whilst we still have work to do in the league to ensure our Premier League status, that should not stop us enjoying our first decent FA Cup run since 2006. It was a massive game and we won it without the need for extra-time or penalties, that is something to be celebrated.

Almiron and Saint Maximin’s performances

To see Miggy and ASM play with the shackles off was a delight.

Both seem to have particularly thrived in the FA Cup this season and led the line superbly again on Tuesday night. It may be because they are playing lower league opposition, or that they just play without the pressure of the league, but both have thrived in this tournament since the new year and long may it continue.

Both strike me as classic cup footballers, they may not be the most consistent over 38 league games, but you would fancy either of them to produce a moment of magic to decide a tight quarter-final. The Baggies defence couldn’t live with either of them in the first half and for once we looked like we could genuinely score each time we got into the final third.

Also, Joelinton did produce an improved display. He again didn’t really ever look like scoring but he did contribute far more to the attacking shape of the team, capping it off with an assist for Miggy’s second goal.

Possession

The first hour of this game was one of the only times I have seen us genuinely dominate the ball this season and move it effectively.

Similar to Rochdale in the previous round, West Brom set up to stand off and let us have the ball knowing it is such a rarity for us in the league. The formation change allowed Newcastle to sit wider in possession with Lazaro and Saint-Maximin getting high up the pitch and yet our passing and retention of the was very good.

West Brom on the other hand gave the ball away cheaply a number of times in the first half and allowed us to get a grip of the game. Fabian Schar and Danny Rose in particular were comfortable in possession letting us build from the back, with Sean Longstaff also having one of his better games in recent months on the ball, allowing the front men to do the damage. Our second goal in particular was one of our best team goals of the season.

NEGATIVES

We still nearly threw it away

It was far nervier at the end than it ever needed to be. It should never have got to that stage.

Cruising with a three goal lead with twenty minutes to play and we still end up clinging on for dear life at the end. In fairness to West Brom they kept fighting throughout the second half and never gave our back four any respite but we should have won by a bigger margin.

Our defending for the first West Brom goal was poor, failing to clear our lines and allowing the ball to drop in the box multiple times in the space of a few seconds. At that point you just knew we would make it harder than it needed to be. Typical Newcastle.

Whilst I understand the manager’s reasons for taking them off, the decision to bring off Almiron and ASM, negated our threat on the counter attack, in turn inviting more pressure. Even with the formation and personnel change towards the end we still could have seen it out in a more comfortable fashion.

Despite the substitutions (which has directed some criticism Bruce’s way) we were seeing out the last ten minutes of the tie relatively well, keeping the ball and not lumping it aimlessly. However, when Gayle broke forward with the ball in a 3 v 2 situation it was absolutely criminal that we didn’t even get a shot on goal away, Gayle instead losing possession carelessly. Seconds later it was 3-2 and we had to endure a horrible final minute or so. It didn’t cost us tonight thankfully but one thing our cup run this season, is our game-management leaves a lot to be desired.

Nabil Bentalab’s performance

An inconsistent night from our new midfielder, who is yet to bring a higher level of quality to our midfield. I don’t think he has been a disaster but I am yet to be convinced he is a significantly better option than Shelvey or Longstaff. He likes to come deep to get the ball but doesn’t seem to penetrate the opposition block.

From his time at Spurs I was expecting more of a box-to-box type player, yet he often slows the ball down and doesn’t seem to really drive the team on. He was booked for a cynical foul after giving possession away carelessly and it summed up his night.

It could be that he simply needs more game time and he does have the look of a player who has not played a lot of football this season. I still hope he will improve towards the end of the season but at the moment I don’t see how he is any better than Shelvey or an out-of-form Sean Longstaff. It is not a major critique though, more that I just expected a bit more when we signed him.

We have yet to convince and can no longer avoid the big teams

This is not to take anything away from our cup performances so far. They have given a great amount of joy in an otherwise difficult few months for the team.

Essentially though, we have been pretty lucky with the draw. Rochdale, Oxford and West Brom. We won’t get such luck in the next round.

I think we will probably have to knock out one of the big guns if we are to make Wembley, particularly looking at the sides left in (presuming the likes of Man City, Tottenham, Leicester and Man Utd also get through).

We are still yet to really dominate a game bar the Rochdale replay, even though West Brom was our third consecutive tie against lower league opposition. This is not a major issue. After all we were long overdue some good fortune in cup draws. We seemed to be endlessly coming up against fellow Premier League sides for a long time, so we have earned a few decent draws.

As we head into the last eight though, we will almost certainly need to step up our performance levels if we are to make Wembley. Here’s hoping.

Stats from BBC Sport:

West Brom 2 Newcastle 3  – Tuesday 3 March 2020 8pm

Goals:

West Brom:

Phillips 74, Zohore 90+3

Newcastle: 

Almiron 33, 45+1, Lazaro 47

Possession was WBA 48% Newcastle 52%

Total shots were WBA 18 Newcastle 15

Shots on target were WBA 7 Newcastle 7

Corners were WBA 6 Newcastle 2

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Rose, Sean Longstaff, Bentaleb, Lazaro (Lejeune 90+1), Almiron (Shelvey 71), Joelinton, Saint-Maximim (Gayle 80)

Unused Subs:

Elliot, Yedlin, Ritchie, Matty Longstaff

Crowd: (NUFC 5,050)

(Mike Ashley signing autographs and abused by Newcastle United fans outside Hawthorns – Video – Watch HERE)

(After playing reserve side and losing to Newcastle United, Slaven Bilic says ‘The league is the priority’ – Read HERE)

(West Brom 2 Newcastle 3 – Watch official match highlights in 5 goal thriller and plenty other chances – Watch HERE)

(Steve Bruce reacts to West Brom 2 Newcastle 3 – “It must be something in our DNA” – Read HERE)

(Brilliant video footage as ‘Ridiculous support’ of 5,000+ Newcastle fans celebrate goal and Miggy chant – Watch HERE)

(West Brom 2 Newcastle 3 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Tuesday’s FA Cup 5th round win – Read HERE)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport

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