A late header from Darren Fletcher gave West Brom a first Premier League win in six matches as they defeated struggling Newcastle United 1-0 at the Hawthorns on Monday.
James Morrison had a shot cleared off the line for the hosts, while Paul Dummett headed on to the crossbar at the other end.
West Brom looked the more likely to find a winner as the match progressed and Victor Anichebe hit the bar himself with a header before Fletcher struck to seal a crucial victory.
The narrow win extends West Brom’s advantage over third-from-bottom Newcastle, who are now without a win in three games, to six points.
West Brom made two changes as Anichebe and Stephane Sessegnon came into the team, while Tony Pulis described substitute Saido Berahino as being “lucky to be on the bench” after an undisclosed incident this week.
Newcastle had one enforced alteration to their line-up with goalkeeper Karl Darlow making his first Premier League appearance to replace Rob Elliot, who pulled out with illness prior to kick off.
West Brom were so close to taking an early lead when Newcastle failed to deal with Sessegnon’s cross from the right, with the ball eventually falling to Morrison. The midfielder’s shot on the turn beat Darlow, but Fabricio Coloccini was in position to clear from the goal-line.
Darlow had to get down impressively to save a powerful long-range drive from Morrison moments later as the hosts made the faster start.
The visitors responded and it took a great challenge from Gareth McAuley to bring an end to an excellent solo run from Moussa Sissoko, before Boaz M
yhill had to repel a powerful Georginio Wijnaldum effort following a good passing move.
After a frenetic start, there were fewer clear opportunities in the remainder of the first half but both sides did suffer injuries, with Jonas Olsson and Vurnon Anita coming off for Craig Gardner and Cheick Tiote respectively.
Newcastle were inches away from an opener after the break when Dummett crashed a header from Ayoze Perez’s corner against the crossbar and Coloccini was only just off-target as he attempted to scramble home the rebound.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was furious not to be awarded a penalty by referee Mike Jones as he shot at goal under intense pressure from defender Jonny Evans.
West Brom brought on Berahino with 20 minutes to go before Anichebe claimed for a penalty at the other end after he had knocked the ball beyond an onrushing Darlow and appeared to be touched by the goalkeeper.
In the closing stages, Anichebe’s downward header bounced up to hit the woodwork as both sides desperately searched for a winner.
The breakthrough arrived with 12 minutes remaining. Sessegnon found Claudio Yacob, who crossed from the right and Darlow was unable to keep out Fletcher’s downward header.
Darlow had to save well from both Anichebe and Berahino to prevent the hosts from doubling their lead, but there was to be no comeback from the visitors.
Key Opta stats:
– This was only the third time in 29 league games that Newcastle had failed to score versus WBA.
– The Magpies have failed to score in 10 of their last 15 Premier League away games.
– WBA had 22 shots, which is 12% of their entire total in the Premier League this season.
– West Brom’s 22 shots is seven more than they have managed in any other Premier League game this season.
– After this game Newcastle now have the fewest shots in the Premier League this season (171, overtaken by WBA on 177)