Newcastle earn valuable point in stalemate at fellow strugglers West Brom

Date published: Sunday 7th March 2021 2:06 - Robert McCarthy

Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles West Brom v Newcastle March 2021

Newcastle edged a point closer to Premier League safety after a 0-0 draw at fellow strugglers West Brom on Sunday.

The Baggies are eight points from safety following the clash at the Hawthorns.

Mbaye Diagne missed Albion’s best chances while Sam Johnstone denied Joe Willock to leave the Magpies four points above the bottom three.

Albion boss Sam Allardyce had labelled the game as must-win but the Baggies did not do enough against their fellow strugglers and, with 10 games left, are surely destined for an instant return to the Sky Bet Championship.

The Newcastle soap opera arrived at The Hawthorns for its latest episode after Matt Ritchie’s mid-week bust up with Steve Bruce.

With the foundations of the squad again tested the Magpies needed to hold their nerve and they at least stopped Albion gaining ground in the race for survival and climbed to 16th, a point above Brighton.

A point is unlikely to take much heat off Bruce and the Magpies, who have won just twice in their last 15 games, continue to lack inspiration without the injured Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron.

They did have the early edge though and Johnstone claimed Emil Krafth’s deflected strike before the visitors carved out the game’s first clear opening after 12 minutes.

Willock slipped in Joelinton and the striker outpaced Dara O’Shea only for Darnell Furlong’s excellent intervention to deny Ryan Fraser a tap in.

Despite a fresh attack on the Premier League about Albion’s schedule, Allardyce named an unchanged team for a third straight game 60 hours after Thursday’s defeat to Everton.

Missed chances for Baggies 

It was clearly a gamble but they created decent first-half chances and Diagne ballooned their best over after Kyle Bartley flicked on Furlong’s long throw.

Matheus Pereira shot at Martin Dubravka and the goalkeeper then had to shovel the Diagne’s header wide nine minutes before the break.

Newcastle’s own threat had subsided as a scrappy half wore on and Bruce rolled the dice just 11 minutes after the break when Dwight Gayle replaced Jeff Hendrick.

By then Matt Phillips had already skied Conor Townsend’s cross over from eight yards.

But Gayle – who spent 2018-19 on loan at the Baggies – almost made an instant impact when he teed up Willock to test Johnstone at his near post on the hour.

As the Baggies began to tire Newcastle exploited the extra space and Johnstone saved low from Joelinton with 20 minutes left.

Yet there was no winner and even when Albion pushed for a late goal Newcastle survived.

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