Karl Darlow gaffe on Premier League debut hands West Brom victory over Newcastle
Karl Darlow's debut disaster plunged Newcastle into further relegation trouble as West Brom triumphed at The Hawthorns.
The goalkeeper allowed Darren Fletcher's header to squeeze past him on his Barclays Premier League debut to hand Albion a 1-0 win.
Darlow was only a late replacement for Rob Elliot after he was taken ill in the build up to the game and dropped to the bench.
Fabricio Coloccini cleared off the line from James Morrison while he and Paul Dummett hit the woodwork for the Magpies and Victor Anichebe struck the bar for the Baggies.
Defeat left the Magpies in the bottom three and two points from safety while Albion's first win in six games moved them six points above the drop zone.
Saido Berahino started on the bench for the eighth straight game with Anichebe given his first Premier League start since May.
Boss Tony Pulis insisted pre-match Berahino was lucky to be a substitute and hinted at internal problems.
Darlow's tone was set when he had to be rescued inside two minutes of his top flight bow by Coloccini when the skipper hacked Morrison's shot off the line.
The former Nottingham Forest custodian then turned Morrison's drive wide before Albion survived a scare.
Moussa Sissoko had stolen the ball inside Newcastle's half and his lung-bursting 60-yard run was only halted by a last-gasp challenge from Gareth McAuley as the midfielder prepared to pull the trigger.
Both sides were prepared to press during an entertaining opening and Aleksandar Mitrovic saw a shot deflect over while Dummett blocked Fletcher's drive.
Darlow looked nervy, skewing a punch over his own bar, and Albion noticeably targeted the keeper at set-pieces.
But they could not force a first-half opener and almost fell behind 10 minutes after the break.
Newcastle had started well and Dummett's header hit the underside of the bar and Coloccini's follow up was deflected onto the post.
Chris Brunt was then forced to clear Mitrovic's effort over his own bar - as the striker called for a penalty - with the Baggies ragged.
Newcastle's plight forced them to up the tempo and s ensing the danger Pulis called for Berahino, with the striker replacing Morrison with 20 minutes left.
But it was Anichebe, who had faded after a bullish first half, who came closest on 74 minutes.
Darlow's nerves got to him again and he shanked his clearance behind for a corner and from the resulting delivery Anichebe's header bounced onto the bar.
But Darlow did not escape a second time when his error gifted Albion the lead 12 minutes from time.
Claudio Yacob's cross was met by the unmarked Fletcher and Darlow should have dealt with his downward header but allowed it to squirm past him and over the line.
The keeper made a smart save from Anichebe to prevent Albion doubling their lead and then turned Berahino's drive wide with four minutes left but his gaffe proved costly.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Good 3 points. Excellent lads #boingboingbaggies," suspended West Brom winger James McClean enjoyed his side's victory.
Boaz Myhill: 6
Craig Dawson: 6
Jonas Olsson: 6
Gareth McAuley: 7
Jonny Evans: 6
Chris Brunt: 6
Claudio Yacob: 6
Darren Fletcher: 6
James Morrison: 7
Stephane Sessegnon: 6
Vicor Anichebe: 7
Craig Gardner: 6
Saido Berahino: 6
Rickie Lambert: 6
Karl Darlow: 5
Paul Dummett: 6
Fabricio Coloccini: 7
Chancel Mbemba: 6
Daryl Janmaat: 6
Vurnon Anita: 6
Jack Colback: 6
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6
Moussa Sissoko: 6
Aleksandar Mitrovic: 6
Ayoze Perez: 6
Cheick Tiote: 6
Siem De Jong: 6
Florian Thauvin: 6
Gareth McAuley: The Albion defender produced a brilliant last-gasp tackle to deny Moussa Sissoko a first-half opener and helped the Baggies to a vital clean sheet.
They came under pressure at the start of the second half and McAuley, along with Jonny Evans, was able to keep the backline focused and unbroken.
He is out of contract at the end of the season and further impressive performances will justify a new deal.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
It will be a moment Karl Darlow will want to forget after his error allowed Darren Fletcher to steal the points at The Hawthorns.
The keeper should have kept the midfielder's header out but instead allowed it to slip through his body and creep over the line.
Newcastle's defenders were hardly innocent for allowing Fletcher to arrive unmarked to meet Claudio Yacob's cross as their frailties were underlined.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Tony Pulis had continued to complain about West Brom's defeat to Bournemouth in their last home game in his programme notes but victory over Newcastle will appease the boss.
The game looked to be heading for a draw until Darlow's mistake but Pulis will think it was justice after their previous defeat - where he questioned the award of the Cherries' match-winning penalty.
Steve McClaren is struggling to get his Newcastle side playing consistently and their lack of quality in the final third will worry the boss.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Newcastle's mini revival has certainly hit the buffers after successive defeats and the travelling supporters jeered their team off.
Only a few of the Magpies team made a tentative effort to applaud their fans at the end as they knew what awaited them.
The Magpies remain in the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League and although there was plenty of huff and puff they lacked the necessary quality and Karl Darlow's mistake threw away what could have been a valuable point.
WHO'S UP NEXT
West Brom v Stoke (Barclays Premier League. Saturday, January 2)
Arsenal v Newcastle (Barclays Premier League, Saturday, January 2)