Perch cools relegation worries

  • Last Updated: April 21 2013, 13:24 BST

Newcastle defender James Perch is convinced the Magpies will soon kill off any lingering relegation fears.

James Perch: Confident Newcastle will avoid the drop
James Perch: Confident Newcastle will avoid the drop

Last week's humiliating derby defeat by Sunderland, coming soon after the disappointment of Europa League exit, raised concerns about morale among Alan Pardew's men for the run-in.

Newcastle had travelled to West Brom for their latest game just five points above the Premier League relegation zone.

But even though they surrendered an early advantage to draw 1-1 at The Hawthorns, Perch feels the performance was good enough to suggest problems will be solved.

Perch said: "If we keep playing like that we will be fine.

"We have got a good enough team, we have got good enough players in the squad to make sure we don't go down.

"It is looking like it is going to be a low-points survival this year, but we still want to hit that 40-point mark to be sure.

"We just hope we keep playing well and picking up points away from home, and make sure our home form is a bit better."

Newcastle showed an early determination to make amends for the Sunderland debacle and grabbed an eighth-minute lead with a glancing header from Yoan Gouffran.

The visitors then squandered a number of chances to increase their advantage before the break, most notably when Papiss Cisse seized on a poor Jonas Olsson pass only to clip over.

Newcastle were made to pay for their profligacy as West Brom fought back in the second half, hitting the bar through Romelu Lukaku before Billy Jones levelled just after the hour.

From then the hosts looked the more likely winners and Newcastle's back-up goalkeeper Rob Elliot, in for the injured Tim Krul, saved brilliantly from a James Morrison header.

Perch, 27, who had been making his 300th career appearance, said: "They put us under a lot of pressure but we defended well and a lot of credit has to go to Rob Elliot.

"In the first half we had a couple of chances. Papiss had the one-on-one which, he knows himself, he probably should have scored.

"At 2-0 it would have been a different second half.

"We played well first half, we edged it, but they had the second half so I think a draw is a fair result."

Of vital importance to Perch and his team-mates was the response they produced after the 3-0 reverse to Paolo Di Canio's rejuvenated Sunderland.

Perch said: "If nothing else we had to show the fight and desire we were lacking against Sunderland.

"That is the bare minimum of any game - workrate and desire to win the game.

"We lacked that against Sunderland and we knew we had to put it right."

Perch was involved in one curious incident in the final minute of the first half when he was penalised by referee Mike Jones for a foul on Billy Jones.

A free-kick was awarded on the right edge of the box but replays suggested the officials had blundered twice with the challenge inside the area but the ball being won cleanly.

Perch said: "It shouldn't have been given. I know it wasn't a foul but Mike said to me at the start of the second half that he called it right, it was a foul outside the box.

"The linesman didn't give it. It was the referee who was 20-25 yards away. I don't think it was his decision to make and I think he made the wrong one."

Billy Jones agreed errors had been made and did not necessarily feel he deserved a penalty, or even a free-kick.

He said: "We both got there at the same time and it was not a blatant foul - but if it was a foul, it was in the box and it has got to be a penalty."

Jones' goal was his first for the club, as well as the first scored by an English player for the Baggies this season.

The 26-year-old right-back said: "I am just relieved. I have had chances which I have fluffed and the keepers have made some saves.

"I am happy to get the first one and will hopefully get some more now."

The result maintained the Baggies' position in the top eight and, after recent losses, they are anxious to prevent the season petering out after such a strong start.

Jones said: "We always talked about how good teams don't lose three on the bounce it was nice to stop the rot.

"We all know the first half wasn't acceptable but we showed good character in the second half and I think we at least deserved a draw."

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