By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

Newcastle United surrendered two points at the Hawthorns as they allowed West Brom to get back into a game they dominated for 45 minutes. Yoan Gouffran had given the visitors the lead after just seven minutes and Newcastle continued to impress until half-time. However, the second period was all West Brom and Billy Jones equalised to increase the pressure on the Geordies.

It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from Alan Pardew’s side, which passed the hosts off the park in the first half and deservedly lead through Gouffran’s flicked header. However, when the teams kicked off for the second half, it was obvious that Newcastle had been instructed to try and see out their lead, which did not work as Jones equalised.

The energy and high pressure tactics that served them so well in the first 45 minutes completely disappeared from the visitors’ play and allowed West Brom to take the ascendancy. The Baggies almost won it too, as Romelu Lukaku hit the bar with a header and Shane Long tested Rob Elliot with a sharp header.

Alan Pardew was without midfield anchorman Cheick Tiote, as well as Sylvain Marveaux, who both picked up knocks in training this week. James Perch came in for Tiote, while Massadio Haidara made his first Premier League start at left-back in place of Marveaux, with Jonas Gutierrez moving onto the wing.

The visitors settled fastest and showed no lasting effects of last week’s humbling Derby Day defeat. Yohan Cabaye was central to the positive play being shown by Newcastle and was supported by some excellent runs being made by Cisse.

The pair combined after just three minutes when the former found the Senegal striker with a sweetly struck pass down the left wing. Cisse pulled off a fancy flick to set Moussa Sissoko through on goal but the former Toulouse midfielder was beaten to it by Ben Foster. The incisive move was just what was missing from last week.

And it took just four more minutes for the Geordies to find the breakthrough. The same combination of Cabaye and Cisse made the goal, as Cabaye found the former Freiburg striker with a clever reverse pass. Cisse clipped a cross into the area and with Foster foolishly failing to anticipate a touch, Gouffran was allowed to flick a header into the corner and give Newcastle the lead.

Cabaye continued to dictate the game from midfield and almost doubled the advantage just seconds after Gouffran’s goal. He fired a typical long range effort which dipped narrowly over the bar with Foster beaten.

West Brom finally settled and started to enjoy some possession, but Newcastle’s high pressure tactics were working and they didn’t allow the hosts to build any of their trademark slick moves. James Perch and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa were particularly impressive in neutralising the threat of Romelu Lukaku and James Morrison.

Steven Taylor had a chance to put Newcastle 2-0 up when he met a Cabaye free-kick but couldn’t beat Foster after playing a neat one-two with Gouffran.

For all their chances, Newcastle should have been more than one goal up at the break but the chances they created were not being finished.

Papiss Cisse missed the most gilt-edged opportunity of the half when Jonas Olsson gifted him the ball as he attempted to find a team mate. Cisse was one on one with Foster and comfortably chipped over the England keeper, only for the effort to drop onto the roof of the net.

Steve Clarke decided to change things at the break and introduced Long for the second half and the Irish international almost made an instant impact. Marc-Antoine Fortune’s shot was spilled by Elliot and Long’s follow up was smothered well by the stand-in Newcastle keeper.

The chance sparked a series of corners for the home side, with the tactic of crowding the six-yard box almost working a couple of times. Lukaku was the biggest threat in the area and headed one of Brunt’s set pieces onto the bar as the Baggies pressured.

With the hosts now dominating and Newcastle well and truly on the back foot, the equaliser looked imminent.

It finally came after 63 minutes and from arguably the least likely source on the pitch. Right-back Jones found himself with space inside the box after good work from Fortune, Morrison and Lukaku and fired low past Elliot to give his side their deserved leveller.

Pardew responded to the goal by substituting goal scorer Gouffran for Shola Ameobi, in a blatant attempt to see out the match and collect the point. Instead, the hosts continued to dominate and looked likely to grab a winner, only to be denied by a lack of cutting edge and some good goalkeeping by Elliot.

Even the introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa didn’t work for Newcastle, as the Frenchman hardly touched the ball in his 20-minute cameo appearance.

The Baggies pressured and knocked on the Newcastle door for the remainder of the match but failed to get the goal that would have put the Magpies firmly back in the relegation dogfight.

Thanks to other results not working in their favour, Newcastle are now 16th and six points off 18th-placed Wigan. Should they perform like they did in the first half of today’s game for a full 90 minutes in any of their remaining games, they will avoid any trouble with ease. However, if they keep switching off at half-time and looking to see the game out, then they will find that the six-point gap may not be enough.