West Brom and Newcastle battled to a goalless draw at the Hawthorns that will do little to ease either side’s Premier League relegation fears.
The Magpies had the better opportunities in a game lacking attacking fluency, but West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was alert to deny Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock either side of half-time.
Mbaye Diagne had the best chance for the Baggies when his header was tipped behind by Martin Dubravka, while Matt Phillips fired over when well placed early in the second half.
The draw means West Brom stay 19th and are now eight points from safety. Newcastle move above Brighton into 16th, four points clear of the bottom three.
Magpies edging towards safety
Newcastle will probably be the happier of the two teams, given the point moves them further away from danger, but this was far from an inspiring performance.
It was a troubled build-up to the game, with midfielder Matt Ritchie apologising to boss Steve Bruce in midweek following a training ground bust-up between the pair.
Bruce also denied reports the players were unhappy with the team’s training schedule and pledged to find the person responsible for leaking details about the club to the press during a fractious news conference on Friday.
His cause has not been helped by injuries to key players and the Magpies went to the Hawthorns without leading scorer Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin – a trio responsible for 16 of their 27 league goals so far.
In their absence Bruce sent out a makeshift forward line of Ryan Fraser, Joelinton and Willock, who have scored two goals between them this campaign..
Joelinton did have an early sight of goal when he was played in by Willock down the right, but he opted to pass instead of shoot and his square ball towards Fraser was cut out.
Bruce introduced Dwight Gayle, who scored 23 goals for West Brom in the Championship two seasons ago, early in the second half to try and boost his side’s attacking threat.
And he made an impact within minutes of coming on, with his run and layoff teeing up Willock, whose drive from a tight angle was pushed behind by Johnstone.
Joelinton also saw a timid effort comfortably saved by the Baggies goalkeeper as Newcastle’s attacking threat slowly fizzled out.
Bruce has regularly talked about ‘accumulation of points’ when plotting Newcastle’s survival and this draw helps that cause.
But with seven of the current top 10 lying in wait in their final 11 matches they will likely need to offer a greater attacking threat than they showed here if they are to avoid a nervous end to the season.
Baggies let down by lack of cutting edge
Sam Allardyce has succeeded in making West Brom tougher to beat, but like Sunday’s opponents, goalscoring is becoming a problem.
The Baggies have kept three clean sheets and earned six points in their past five games, one more than they earned in Allardyce’s first 10 matches in charge, but have only scored two goals in that time.
They would have moved to within six points of Newcastle with a win and while a draw is not a disastrous result, they are running out of games if they are to bridge the now eight-point gap between themselves and safety.
Full-back Conor Townsend was their biggest attacking threat as they looked to build patiently down the left, with the five chances he created more than any West Brom player has managed from open play for seven years.
However, the Baggies failed to truly test Dubravka in the Newcastle goal, with Matheus Pereira scuffing an early opportunity straight at the Slovak.
A long throw then produced a chance for Diagne when Kyle Bartley flicked the ball into his path, but he could only fire over while off-balance.
Their best opportunity fell to Phillips early in the second half when Pereira worked the ball low into the box, but the winger’s effort was indicative of the match in general as it flew wildly over the bar.
More to follow.
West Bromwich Albion
- 12Costa Pereira
- 10PhillipsSubstituted forGrantat 83′minutes
- 17DiagneSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 84′minutes
- 16HendrickSubstituted forGayleat 57′minutes
- 21FraserSubstituted forCarrollat 90+3′minutes
- 36S Longstaff
Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 0, Newcastle United 0.
Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 0, Newcastle United 0.
Okay Yokuslu (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Andy Carroll (Newcastle United).
Substitution, Newcastle United. Andy Carroll replaces Ryan Fraser.
Attempt missed. Okay Yokuslu (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Ryan Fraser.
Foul by Conor Townsend (West Bromwich Albion).
Emil Krafth (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Joelinton (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Jonjo Shelvey.
Foul by Conor Townsend (West Bromwich Albion).
Joelinton (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United).
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Hal Robson-Kanu replaces Mbaye Diagne.
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Karlan Grant replaces Matt Phillips.
Attempt blocked. Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion) header from very close range is blocked. Assisted by Matheus Pereira with a cross.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Paul Dummett.
Attempt missed. Mbaye Diagne (West Bromwich Albion) header from very close range misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Ciaran Clark.