Belfast Telegraph

Hodgson eyes top-half finish

West Brom boss Roy Hodgson has challenged his side to stay in the top half of the Barclays Premier League after their thrilling 3-2 victory at Newcastle.

The Baggies edged a five-goal thriller on Tyneside to climb into 10th place in the table with a second successive away win.

He said: ""Some of our performances at home, I think, have been very good ones, but they haven't given us anything, so if we really want to stay nearer the middle than the bottom, then we need to start taking some points at home as well."

He added: "I know Boxing Day against Manchester City might be a tough place to start, but we have got a lot of other teams to play at home who are in our ball-park who hopefully we can get some points from.

"All the teams who are up there can [finish in the top half of there table], and they can all slip again - when I say all, let's forget the big-money teams we are talking about who are fighting for the top four spots.

"Everyone seems to have come to terms long ago that there are six teams with the financial resources and the ability this year, and they are going to be fighting tooth and nail to see who gets the four Champions League spots.

"Behind that, you have got the Newcastles and the Stokes, perhaps, and after that really, a lot of us are capable of being in the top 10, but we have got to be careful because we are also capable of dropping down. But we have got to start getting some more points at home. We have been extremely unlucky at home."

Peter Odemwingie fired West Brom ahead with 20 minutes gone after applying the finishing touch to Chris Brunt's superb defence-splitting pass, but Demba Ba levelled with an equally well-struck 34th-minute free-kick.

The Magpies were caught on their heels once again a minute before the break when Paul Scharner was allowed to help Brunt's free-kick back across goal for central defender Gareth McAuley to head home.

When Ba produced another adept finish nine minutes from time to take his tally for the season to 13 it looked as though Pardew's men had rescued a point but the visitors ensured they left with all the spoils when Scharner stabbed home the winner from Odemwingie's knock-down to leave Newcastle with just two points from their last six games.

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