Newcastle manager Steve McClaren vowed to ‘battle on’ after seeing his side suffer a second successive defeat at West Brom on Monday.
The Magpies lost to a last-gasp Everton goal at St James’ Park on Boxing Day – but headed to The Hawthorns with confidence thanks to a decent record against the Baggies.
Tony Pulis’ Albion had gone five games without a win heading into the game, but were given a boost before kick-off when Newcastle number one Rob Elliot withdrew with illness, leaving Karl Darlow between the sticks.
Darlow looked nervous as Albion dominated the early stages – but McClaren’s men offered threat on the break, with Ayoze Perez curling a 19th-minute shot just off target.
James Morrison missed a string of first-half chances for Albion but Newcastle were on level terms at the break – and were unlucky on 55 minutes, when Paul Dummett’s header hit the woodwork.
Newcastle appealed for a penalty on the hour mark after Aleksandar Mitrovic tussled with Jonny Evans.
But nothing was given and Albion got the winning goal on 78 minutes, when Darlow let Darren Fletcher’s header through his hands to keep the Magpies in the bottom three.
McClaren said: “We’ve had a tough three days and I feel so sorry for the lads. After so much effort and attitude to stand toe to toe with West Brom, dealing with all the crosses and the balls in the box, I thought we did ever so well.
“But I think the game hinged on two things. The second half it was a certain penalty. It’s unbelievable. It doesn’t help us, it’s cost us the chance to get the first goal, which is all-important in this kind of game.
“It was always a 1-0 game. We felt quite comfortable, played some good football, created some chances, didn’t quite take them, but I didn’t think the boys deserved to get beat today.”
On Elliot’s illness, he added: “Rob just came down for late breakfast and he didn’t feel too good and he got worse and worse. We tried him in the warm-up and he felt he couldn’t play.
“It was a huge disappointment because he has been fantastic for us.
“We’re all unhappy with the goal we conceded. We coped with everything and I don’t think Darren Fletcher will say it was a bullet header but that’s football. Decisions at each end have cost us but we’ll battle on.”