STEVE Clarke said he was proud of Albion’s dominant display at Newcastle and claimed the hosts’ deflected last-gasp winner underlines just how cruel the beautiful game can be.
The Baggies fell behind to Demba Ba’s 35th-minute opener but Romelu Lukaku, who had wasted two golden chances in the first half, restored parity with his third goal of the season ten minutes after the break.
Clarke’s side went on to boss the rest of the St James’ Park fixture and looked the team most likely to snatch all three points, with Ben Foster largely a passenger.
However, for the second week running, disaster struck in stoppage time. Sammy Ameobi’s wayward shot took a huge deflection off fellow sub Papiss Cisse and crept past the wrong-footed Foster.
Clarke admitted the defeat was hard to come to terms with and said he felt particularly sorry for the 1,400 fans who had to make the long journey home empty-handed.
“A point was the least we deserved – if not all three,” he said.
“We were in good shape. We bossed the game, controlled it well, played some terrific football and created some good chances. To finish with nothing is really hard to take.
“I haven’t seen their winning goal but Ben tells me their lad didn’t hit his shot properly and that it wasn’t on target when it hit Cisse.
“It’s a really sore way to lose a match.
“Even if we had taken a point, I’d have been disappointed, so you can imagine how we all feel after losing.
“Football’s a strange game. Sometimes you can be the best team and look as though you’re going to get a point, or three points, but end up with nothing.
“That’s the beauty of football – but it doesn’t feel very beautiful at the moment.”
Clarke said he would look into how Albion have finished up empty handed after pushing champions Manchester City all the way eight days ago and impressed again today on Tyneside.
But he insisted he could not fault his players.
“Once again, we showed today we're a good team,” he added.
“I told the players they should be proud of their display. I'm certainly proud of them.
“When I look back at a video of the game, I’m sure I will take plenty of positives from the performance.
“But at the moment it just hurts.
“We’ve started the season well but I can now only look at the last two games.
“We’ve played well in both of them and lost.
“I need to have a look at what we’re doing and why we’ve lost them.
“Sometimes, it can just be bad luck and, at this stage of the season, you have to think it’s bad luck because we’ve played so well in both games.
“I thought we were the best team today and I’ve told the players if they continue to play like that week in, week out, we’ll be okay this season.
“What hurts me the most today is the amount of effort and quality my players have put into the game.
“Two weeks in a row they’ve done that for me and got nothing. They don’t deserve it.”