Newcastle draw to halt losing run
Ayoze Perez ended relegation-haunted Newcastle's eight-game losing streak as they picked up their first Barclays Premier League point since February.
However, the former Tenerife frontman's seventh goal of the season was only enough to secure a 1-1 draw with West Brom at St James' Park on a day when the battle for survival took a series of twists.
The Magpies had briefly slipped into the bottom three when Victor Anichebe headed home Craig Gardner's 32nd-minute free-kick, but Perez levelled four minutes before the break with a sweetly-struck shot to hand head coach John Carver a little respite.
However, the home fans among a crowd of 47,894 left the stadium knowing there is still work to be done if their team is to avoid the drop with a trip to QPR next weekend and a final-day clash with West Ham on Tyneside to come.
Sunderland's surprise win at Everton in the day's early kick-off left the Magpies even more in need of victory, and that was not lost on their supporters, who answered skipper Fabricio Coloccini's plea to get behind their team.
The loss of Mike Williamson and Daryl Janmaat to suspension meant yet another reshuffle which resulted in midfielder Jonas Gutierrez lining up at left-back, and the Magpies' frailty at the back was to haunt them once again.
They started the game in positive fashion with midfielder Moussa Sissoko blasting a long-range drive just over Boaz Myhill's crossbar with four minutes gone.
But they enjoyed a major escape four minutes later when Craig Dawson got his head to Gardner's inswinging corner and saw his effort come back off the post with the black and white shirts converging to block Youssouf Mulumbu's follow-up.
Spurred on by their good fortune, Newcastle pushed forward, but were able to create little of note in open play despite the best efforts of Remy Cabella, who saw plenty of the ball, but could do little with it.
Indeed, most their best efforts came from Ryan Taylor free-kicks with the midfielder twice finding the head of defender Paul Dummett and going for goal himself, but with no tangible reward.
Newcastle went close to the opening goal on the half-hour when Coloccini headed another Taylor free-kick back across goal for Sissoko to rifle in a shot which was blocked on the line by Joleon Lescott.
But they fell behind just two minutes later, and in depressingly predictable fashion as Anichebe climbed above Taylor to head Gardner's free-kick past the helpless Tim Krul.
Sissoko shot straight at Myhill after running on to Cabella's clever 39th-minute flick, but his side had to wait just two minutes longer to drag themselves back into the game.
Taylor picked out Perez on the edge of the box with his free-kick and the Spaniard took a touch before drilling a left-foot shot into the bottom corner to popular acclaim from the Toon Army.
Dawson floated a cross just high and wide after Chris Brunt had gone one-on-one with Krul two minutes before the break, but the sides went in level to the unaccustomed, at least in recent times, sound of applause from the locals.
The Baggies could have been back in front within three minutes of the restart when Anichebe broke and fed skipper Darren Fletcher, who crossed for Gardner to fire just wide first time as he arrived at the back post.
Cabella was starting to make an impact and it was his enterprising run which led to the 64th-minute corner from which Perez tested Myhill at his near post.
Carver sent on leading scorer Papiss Cisse, fresh from his seven-game ban, as a 68th-minute replacement for Emmanuel Riviere, but it was the visitors who very nearly regained the advantage with 17 minutes remaining when Brunt saw his header blocked on the line by a combination of Dummett and Krul before substitute Saido Berahino stabbed the rebound against the post.
Krul palmed away Berahino's 76th-minute shot after he had been played in by Anichebe, but Myhill had to produce an injury-time save to keep out Sissoko's stinging shot in a tense finish.