Matt Phillips goal keeps West Brom afloat with win at Newcastle
The Baggies extended their unbeaten run to four games with victory on Tyneside.
Matt Phillips gave West Brom a glimmer of hope in their fight for Premier League survival as they won 1-0 at Newcastle to extend their unbeaten run to four games.
Phillips’ 29th-minute strike handed caretaker boss Darren Moore a second victory of his brief reign as the Magpies came up short in their hunt for a fifth straight home win in front of a disappointed crowd of 52,283 at St James’ Park.
It was no more than the visitors deserved as they created the better chances on an afternoon when they knew even three points might not be enough to keep them in the top flight.
Rafael Benitez’s men huffed and puffed, but simply could not find the quality, organisation or precision which brought them four successive victories to end their own relegation fears, although keeper Ben Foster made a superb first-half save to deny Dwight Gayle an equaliser.
In a scrappy start to the game, neither side was able to establish any real fluency with Jonjo Shelvey, Kenedy and Matt Ritchie foraging for the Magpies and Chris Brunt, Matt Phillips and Salomon Rondon attempting to get the Baggies moving forward.
It was little surprise when the first chance arrived courtesy of an error – Newcastle full-back DeAndre Yedlin heading an attempted clearance straight at Rondon, although James McClean dragged his skidding effort across the face of goal.
Gayle, returning to the starting line-up in place of Islam Slimani, responded within four minutes, prompting a save from Foster from distance after Shelvey and Ritchie had exchanged passes.
📸 Ben Foster makes a superb save to claw away @dwightgayle's header during the first half.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 28, 2018
The Baggies still lead 1-0 at St. James' Park with just over 25 minutes plus stoppages to play. #NUFC pic.twitter.com/xlsEBt65BU
The lack of quality in the game was summed up when Phillips played Rondon into space with 24 minutes gone, but although he teed himself up nicely, he sent his volley horribly wide.
Jay Rodriguez fared little better when he mishit another volley from Phillips’ early cross three minutes later, but the latter was not so wasteful when played in by Jake Livermore, firing emphatically past keeper Martin Dubravka.
The Magpies were very nearly level when Kenedy played a neat one-two with Ayoze Perez and saw his stabbed effort graze the foot of the post with Foster beaten and Gayle awaiting a square ball, although overall, their response was tepid until the dying seconds of the half.
Mohamed Diame saw a close-range shot deflected over the bar and then Florian Lejeune’s header was turned towards goal by Gayle, only for Foster to claw it away with a fine reaction save.
Newcastle returned with much greater intensity, but continued to look vulnerable at the back with Rodriguez mishitting a 53-minute attempt from Phillips’ knock-down and Rondon slicing wastefully wide from Livermore’s 61st-minute pass.
Brunt whistled a long-range effort just wide with 21 minutes remaining, but the Magpies continued to pile forward in search of an equaliser with Joselu heading wide five minutes from time and fellow substitute Slimani getting himself involved in a tangle with defender Craig Dawson which could yet have repercussions.