Club News

Clarke: It was a game of two halves

And boss glad half-time change paid dividends

STEVE Clarke was delighted to see his men fight back to earn a 1-1 draw against Newcastle in what he described as a game of two halves.

The Baggies, playing only their third game in five weeks, produced a disappointing first-half performance and were fortunate not to be more than one goal down at the break.

Yoan Gouffran opened the scoring for the visitors in the eighth minute but the Baggies looked a different team in the second half and Billy Jones’ first-ever goal for the club levelled the scores.

“I asked for a little bit of aggression, momentum and rhythm for the second half,” said Clarke.

“I did speak before the game that I was a little bit concerned we’d only played two games in 34 days.

“When you play game after game you do find a little rhythm and you get momentum, and players feel good about themselves.

“The boys work hard in training every day but training does not replicate games because you never get that intensity.

“I was concerned leading into the game and the first half showed my concerns were probably justified.

“Newcastle picked up the game much quicker than we did and were better than us in the first half.

“On another day they could have got the second goal, which would have made it much more difficult for us.

“But they didn’t and that gave us the avenue back into the game, which we grabbed with both hands, because in the second half we were much, much better.

“We had much more aggression about us and more positivity.

“On another day we could maybe have nicked all three points.

“But I think a point was a fair result.”

The Hawthorns chief brought on Shane Long for Claudio Yacob at half-time and switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-2-1-3 set-up.

And the change paid dividends as the eighth-placed hosts bossed the second half and moved within two points of their best-ever Barclays Premier League haul of 47 points, with five games remaining.

“We had to chase the game, we were losing 1-0,” added Clarke.

“It’s something I had done in the last 20 minutes against Arsenal in the previous game, which worked quite well for us.

“I just felt it was right to do to try and get on the front foot.

“It worked well for us.”