Stalemate At The Hawthorns

West Brom v nufc

United: Given, Jenas, Dyer, N'Zogbia(Milner 75), Hughes, Bramble, Ameobi, Taylor, Bowyer, Robert, Bernard Subs: O'Brien, Harper,  Ambrose, Brittain

Albion: Hoult, Albrechtsen, Purse, Clement, Robinson, Scimeca, Johnson, Wallwork, Horsfield, Kanu (Gera 83'), Earnshaw Subs: Kuszczak, Contra, Gaardsoe, Kumas

Referee: Neale Barry

GRAEME Souness made one change to the side that won on New Year's Day, with Charles N'Zogbia replacing Craig Bellamy in midfield for his first start for the club after his move from Le Harve for the clash at the Hawthorns on Monday evening.

United came out of the tunnel wearing their yellow European strip, with The Baggies wearing their traditional blue and white stripes and Newcastle once again lined up in a 4-5-1 formation

The first real chance fell to United on four minutes when Robert's left foot free kick was met by the head of Bramble but the defender headed the cross straight into the hands of Hoult in the Albion goal.

Moments later United were on the attack again, N'Zogbia crossed a deep ball to the back post which Ameobi headed back into the path of Bowyer but the United midfielder blazed over from 12 yards.

After a foul on Ameobi on six minutes, Johnson's encroachment on Robert's free kick resulted in a yellow card for the Albion midfielder. The wall was moved back 10 yards. This time however Robert's strike was deflected wide.

Albion's first attack of the game came in the 12th minute when Earrnshaw set up Wallwork 25 yards out. The midfielder had one touch before driving an effort which Given could only parry with Bramble clearing the danger. 

Ameobi won a corner off Dyer's cross on 18 minutes, but Bowyer's dead ball came to nothing. Albion failed to clear their lines a minute later and N'Zogbia burst into the box forcing Hoult into a smart save at his near post, pushing the ball out for a corner.

On 22 minutes United were on the attack again, a neat pass from N'Zogbia set up Bowyer who from 25 yards blasted a right foot shot against the foot of the post. The rebound fell to Robert who drove a shot goalwards with Hoult tipping the ball wide for a corner at his near post.  

Kanu won West Brom a free kick on 32 minutes. Full back Clement took the kick but United's wall stood strong, blocking the shot.

United had a potential penalty shout turned down on 39 minutes when the exciting N'Zogbia fed Bernard in the area, and after making slight contact with Johnson referee Barry waved play on.

At the other end both Kanu and Esrnshaw combined well before the Nigerian hit a shot wide of Given's right hand post.

United had the better of the chances in the first half but at half time the score remained goalless.

Bramble hit a sixty yard ball across field into the path of Dyer on 48 minutes, with the United midfielder forcing a corner off Clement. However Albion cleared the corner from Bowyer.

After a good pass from Bowyer, Robert sped past the challenge of Albrechtsen but from the left hand angle of box blasted over the bar.

On 55 minutes Horsfield turned Hughes in the area but his shot from eight yards was superbly blocked by Given who spread himself brilliantly.

On the hour N'Zogbia danced round Albrechtsen before pulling the ball back to Bowyer just inside the box. The United midfielder took too long shoot  allowing Purse to block and conceed a corner.

The game continued at a frantic pace and on 67 minutes a Robinson cross from the left found Earnshaw at the far post who hit a half volley straight at Given. On 75 minutes James Milner came on in place of Charles N'Zogbia and he made an immediate impact taking a pass from Ameobi before crossing the ball in for Robert to to head goalwards but it was cleared off the line by Scimeca.

There was a delay for a few minutes when Johnson and Bernard collided in a 50/50 challenge. As both sides looked for the winner Graeme Souness moved Milner up front alongside Ameobi with Bowyer moving onto the right wing. It was a nervy last 10 minutes for Newcastle as they struggled to dominate but as the game entered injury time Robert drove a shot from distance however Hoult was able to watch as the ball flew well wide.

That was the last opportunity for United and with referee Barry blowing his whistle it ended goalless, with Newcastle taking just a point.

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