And caretaker boss praises team's defensive efforts
KEITH Downing praised his players for keeping their nerve to beat ten-man Newcastle 1-0 and secure their first win in ten games.
The Hawthorns encounter looked to be heading towards a frustrating New Year’s Day draw as the hosts looked to take advantage of Matheiu Debuchy’s 62nd-minute red card.
But the Baggies showed patience is a virtue as they finally unlocked the in-form Magpies’ defence thanks to a deserved Saido Berahino penalty three minutes from time.
“Newcastle came with seven wins out of ten and they have some fantastic players individually,” said Downing.
“They’re probably in one of the best runs they’ve had.
“We had to make sure we nullified their strengths and I thought we did that.
“We restricted them to few chances and we created one or two chances in the first half.
“I didn’t think it was an open game like it was at West Ham but certainly we showed some good defensive qualities.
“I thought the back-four held out really well and restricted them to long-range efforts.
“And I thought all across the team everyone contributed without the ball really well.
“The sending-off made a big difference by opening the game up.
“But they always looked a threat on the break, so we had to be careful with that.”
Downing insisted there could be no doubts about the sending-off and was delighted his substitutions again paid dividends.
At half-time he brought on match winner Berahino for the injured Billy Jones and switched man-of-the-match Morgan Amalfitano to right-back.
And the caretaker boss also threw on the man who won the spot-kick – Matej Vydra.
“We made some positive changes, which I’ve been determined to do since I’ve had the helm," Downing added.
“Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
“On the sending-off - it happens; it’s an emotional game.
“He jumped in and it was the correct decision.
“It helped us.
“Having said that, the game went on and we couldn’t find the opening.
“It started getting a little bit tense but we kept our nerve and everyone kept moving the ball and the pass that Chris Brunt produced for the opening was really important.
“We showed a lot of patience.
“It would have been easy to get carried away and anxious because it’s been a long time since we won.”