By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 2 (Ba 35, Cisse 90)
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Lukaku 55)
Substitute Papiss Cisse came off the bench to net an injury-time winner as Newcastle United recorded a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion at St. James' Park on Sunday.
It was arguably the most fortuitous goal of the Senegalese front man's career, as fellow replacement Sammy Ameobi's long-range strike deflected off the back of Cisse to wrongfoot Baggies stopper Ben Foster.
It looked as though the Premier League fixture was going to end all square, after Romelu Lukaku cancelled out Demba Ba's seventh goal of the season.
The big striker latched on to Shola Ameobi's flick midway through the first half to thump the Magpies into a deserved lead, having dominated proceedings up until the break.
But it was a game of two halves as Albion took charge of the second period and duly equalised when Lukaku nodded in at the far post.
Chances came and went at either end as the game became increasingly frantic, but Newcastle received a stroke of luck with just seconds remaining.
A scrappy opening period saw both sides unable to keep possession for a decent lenght of time, and on a slick surface it took 11 minutes for the game's first chance to be fashioned.
However, Yohan Cabaye dragged a low 20-yard effort well wide after some decent build-up play.
That seemed to spark the Magpies into life though, and less than 60 seconds later they should have been in front.
The ball was spread out wide to Shola Ameobi on the right flank, who took a touch before delivering an inch-perfect cross towards Ba at the far post.
United's six-goal leading scorer had lost his marker but, stooping slightly to connect, he nodded wide of the upright when everyone inside St. James' Park expected him to at least hit the target.
Davide Santon was next to try his luck, firing in a 35-yard bouncing shot which Baggies keeper Ben Foster did well to turn behind.
And the pressure continued as Shola Ameobi rose highest to meet the resulting Cabaye corner, only to plant his header straight at Foster.
It had been almost one-way traffic, but in the 25th minute Tim Krul was called into action to prevent Lukaku from breaking the deadlock.
The visitors turned defence into attack in an instant - one second defending a corner and the next breaking at pace. The move ended with Lukaku racing in one-on-one with Krul, but the Dutch stopper stayed big and deflected the ball to safety.
Zoltan Gera also planted a free-kick over the top, but the action was soon back down the other end when Hatem Ben Arfa raced away from four challenges before feeding Shola Ameobi on the edge of the area, who could only blaze high into the Sir John Hall Stand behind the goal.
The pressure had almost exclusively been on the West Brom goal and their rearguard was finally breached on 35 minutes.
It wasn't pretty and it won't win any awards but no-one of a black and white persuasion will care as Newcastle went route on to get their noses in front.
Krul's long punt forward was flicked on by Shola Ameobi, and Ba used his strength to hold off the attentions of the Baggies' defence before hammering a shot past the helpless Foster.
The visitors tried to hit back but Krul excelled again five minutes before half-time.
It was almost a carbon copy of the earlier situation, with Lukaku released behind the Magpies' backline, and there was an identical outcome with Krul holding his nerve to beat away the on-loan Chelsea man's strike.
The Baggies made a bright start to the second half and Lukaku - with his third chance of the match - got his first goal and put Albion back on level terms.
Gera was given time on the edge of the box and dinked a cross to the far post where the big Belgian had peeled off his marker to nod home.
That meant a slight reshuffle, with Santon moving to right-back, Jonas Gutierrez dropping into the left-side of the defence and Obertan taking up a role wide on the left flank.
But it failed to pay any immediate dividends, as United struggled to break down a resilient second half West Brom defence.
Ba hobbled off midway through the second period, replaced by Sammy Ameobi, but the visitors were still in charge.
Substitute Markus Rosenberg, sliding in, narrowly failed to get on the end of a right wing cross which flew across the six-yard box, while fellow replacement Shane Long was causing all sorts of problems with his pace, just as he did in the same fixture last term.
At the other end, with time running out Obertan and Cisse almost combined for the latter to nod in a close range winner, while captain Fabricio Coloccini had a chance taken off his forehead at the last second.
Ben Arfa sent a rising long-range drive over the top and it looked like any hope of three points had gone for the Magpies.
However, with the game deep into stoppage time, referee Chris Foy played an excellent advantage as Ben Arfa was brought down. Sammy Ameobi picked up the loose ball and shot goalwards, with his effort striking the back of Cisse and nestling in the far corner, leaving Foster stranded.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson (Papiss Cisse 61), Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa, James Perch, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi (Gabriel Obertan 61), Demba Ba (Sammy Ameobi 73)
West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1): Ben Foster; Gabriel Tamas, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Liam Ridgewell; Youssouf Mulumbu, James Morrison; Peter Odemwingie, Zoltan Gera (Goran Popov 88), Graham Dorrans (Markus Rosenberg 72); Romelu Lukaku (Shane Long 65)
Subs not used: Luke Daniels, Gonzalo Jara Reyes, Yassine El Ghanassy, Marc-Antoine Fortune
Referee: Chris Foy (Lancashire)
Bookings: Newcastle - Perch (44), Cabaye (69), Gutierrez (77); West Bromwich Albion - Mulumbu (50), Ridgewell (53)
Attendance: 49,731 (1,400 West Bromwich Albion)