Barton - Out Of Nick And Into The Lion's Den

Last updated : 15 January 2010 By Footy Mad - Editor


... only their second league win of the season and manager Joe Kinnear's first.


NEWCASTLE: Given, Beye, Taylor, Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Duff, Guthrie, Barton, Gutierrez (Geremi 70), Martins (Xisco 77), Ameobi (Carroll 90). Subs Not Used: Harper, Bassong, N'Zogbia, Edgar.

WBA: Carson, Zuiverloon, Donk, Olsson, Robinson, Koren, Morrison, Brunt (Miller 54), Borja Valero, Greening, Bednar (Moore 67). Subs Not Used: Kiely, Hoefkens, Cech, MacDonald, Pele.

Barton, who was pelted with coins and bottles as he warmed up during the derby defeat at Sunderland on Saturday, started the healing process, but it was ultimately Obafemi Martins' 42nd-minute header that won the day and lifted his side out of the relegation zone.

But a crowd of 45,801 endured a tense finish after the Magpies failed to make the most of the chances they created and saw substitute Ishmael Miller pull one back for the Baggies with 25 minutes remaining.

Indeed, had keeper Shay Given, who had kept out James Morrison before the break, not made a vital block from Miller eight minutes later, the visitors might have gone home with a point.

Barton has found himself the subject of more column inches than he might care to remember over the last 18 months or so, but had he chosen to write the script for this evening, he may have done it in this way.

The game was only nine minutes old, with the Magpies having already forced Baggies keeper Scott Carson into a smart reaction save, when the former Manchester City midfielder slid the ball into the box for Shola Ameobi, who tapped it past defender Ryan Donk and was then promptly upended by the defender.

Had Michael Owen been on the pitch instead of nursing a groin injury, he would have stepped up and placed the ball on the spot.

But he was not, and as soon as referee Mike Dean raised his arm, Barton had only one thought in his mind, just as he had done at Fulham last season when he scored his only previous goal for the club.

His strike was firm, Carson went the wrong way, and the ball nestled in the net, sparking mass celebrations both on and off the pitch, some for a small step in the rehabilitation of a player whose reputation precedes him, but most in relief after a traumatic few months on Tyneside.

But if the home fans expected a procession from that point on - and if they have followed the club for any time, they would have known how unwise that was - they were soon to be corrected.

If anything, West Brom enjoyed the better of the possession as they passed the ball swiftly and accurately to leave their opponents chasing shadows at times.

But crucially, they lacked the cutting edge to really trouble the Magpies at the back, at least until their big moment arrived 10 minutes before the break.

Robert Koren expertly turned Jonathan Greening's pass into the path of Morrison to leave a flat-footed home defence in no-man's land, but as he has done so often in the past, Given came to the rescue with a fine save to preserve his clean sheet.

By contrast, Newcastle looked more than capable of adding to their tally as the returning Jonas Gutierrez, Damien Duff, Ameobi and Martins repeatedly stretched West Brom.

Habib Beye skied a shot high over the bar after Ameobi had carved Mowbray's men open down the left with 37 minutes gone, but the Senegal international made amends within five minutes.

The full-back, supporting Duff down the right wing, skipped past Paul Robinson to drill a cross into the middle where Martins, with the help of a deflection off defender Jonas Olsson, powered a header home.

An open game continued in similar vein after the restart with Martins' pace a constant threat to the Baggies, but Iglesias Borja Valero and Greening pulling the strings at the other end.

Tony Mowbray made a significant change with 54 minutes gone when he replaced midfielder Chris Brunt with striker Miller, although the newcomer unwittingly blocked a goal-bound effort from team-mate Morrison two minutes later.

Morrison was proving a key figure as the Magpies laboured, but it was Koren who opened the door for Miller to drag his side back into the game, wrong-footing Fabricio Coloccini to allow the striker to round Given and slide the ball into the empty net.

He might have levelled within eight minutes had Given not reacted smartly when Morrison's free-kick rebounded to the striker off the defensive wall.

Substitute Xisco and Duff both passed up late chances to ease the anxiety, but their side managed to hang on.