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Report: Albion share the spoils on Tyneside

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Albion were left wondering what might have been for the second week in succession after a goalless draw with Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

By James Hilsum • 21 September 2019

By Paul Hazlewood
Neal Maupay lines up a shot on goal.
  • Albion draw 0-0 with Newcastle United
  • Steven Alzate starts and makes his Premier League debut
  • Aaron Connolly comes closest to breaking the deadlock in the second half
  • The Seagulls are next in action against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday

Last week Jeff Hendrick’s stoppage-time strike gave Burnley a share of the spoils at the Amex, and today saw Albion see a host of chances go untaken in an otherwise dominant display on Tyneside.

Potter’s side dictated the pace of the game from the off and averaged more than 70 per cent of possession, but lacked a cutting edge and composure in the final third.

The Albion head coach made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Burnley last time out, as Steven Alzate came into the line-up to make his Premier League debut, while Aaron Mooy and Martin Montoya also came into the side.

Alzate took his place on the left-hand side of a four-man midfield, while Mooy took up a more advanced role in a front three which also included Pascal Gross and Neal Maupay.

Albion teams have looked comfortable on the ball in the early days of the Graham Potter era, and the side at St James’ Park continued that theme with some lovely free-flowing football. 

By Paul Hazlewood
Adam Webster brings the ball out from defence.

Alzate was looking particularly assured in the early stages and won a corner after brilliantly skipping past two challenges, before his resulting set-piece was almost diverted into the net by Jamaal Lascelles, only to be kept out by Martin Dubravka’s fine save.

The hosts nearly undid all of Albion’s positive play in the opening stages after Isaac Hayden threaded a through-ball towards Miguel Almiron, but the winger fired straight at Maty Ryan.

Potter’s men pressed forward and Dan Burn teed up Gross with an enticing cross which the German couldn’t quite direct towards goal. Burn’s defensive partner Adam Webster then became the provider, this time for Maupay, who had two attempts on goal and saw neither test Dubravka.

It was wave after wave of Albion attacks, as Propper picked out Mooy, but the Australian fired wide from the Dutchman’s low cross.

By Bennett Dean
Davy Propper tussles for the ball

Alzate was almost in dreamland moments later as he headed past Dubravka after being picked out by Gross, only to be denied by the linesman. It summed up a first half which had plenty of promise but no reward for the Seagulls.

The majority of the 43,000 fans inside St James’ Park were becoming increasingly disgruntled, as Albion continued to pass the ball around with ease after the re-start. Gross was next to try his luck with a long-distance strike that sailed over the bar.

It looked like Newcastle may punish Albion for their profligacy in front of goal, as Almiron saw another attempt go wide before Jonjo Shelvey’s ambitious long-range strike forced Ryan into a save.

One Aaron replaced another when Connolly entered the fray in place of Mooy with 20 minutes remaining, and the young Irishman almost stole the show with an attempted lob over Dubravka which was acrobatically cleared off the line by Fabian Schar.

By Paul Hazlewood
Dale Stephens plays a pass from midfield.

Alzate was involved in the game’s next flashpoint after going down inside the box under the challenge of the Magpies shot-stopper, but no penalty was given.

Potter introduced both Gaetan Bong and Yves Bissouma for the final ten minutes in place of Gross and Maupay, and the latter forced Dubravka into a low save with a driven effort.

But the game ended in a draw and attention now briefly turns away from the Premier League, as Aston Villa visit the Amex in a Carabao Cup third-round tie on Wednesday.

ALBION: Ryan; Dunk, Webster, Burn; Alzate, Stephens, Propper, Montoya; Mooy (Connolly 70), Gross (Bong 82), Maupay (Bissouma 82).

SUBS NOT USED: Button (GK), Duffy, Baluta, Murray.

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