Gayle, who was injured during pre-season, came off the bench to find the net with a superb header eight minutes from time at St James’ Park on Saturday.
The Magpies, playing for the first time in more than two weeks, were given the lead after just 20 seconds by Miguel Almiron.
West Brom’s improvement after half-time was rewarded by Darnell Furlong‘s excellent equaliser.
But Gayle’s strike against the club where he once spent time on loan lifted Newcastle to 11th in the Premier League table, at least for the time being, while West Brom remains 19th.
Gayle and Newcastle’s successful return
This was a successful return for both Gayle and Newcastle.
The Magpies’ training ground was closed for a week after a Covid-19 outbreak which caused their game against Aston Villa to be postponed.
Newcastle only returned to training on Tuesday, with manager Steve Bruce saying that, as of Monday, he had huge doubts over how many players he would have available for this fixture.
As it turned out, Bruce was only missing two players that started in the win at Crystal Palace last time out, though the absence of both Federico Fernandez and Javier Manquillo left a defensive shortage that usual midfielder Isaac Hayden filled with aplomb.
After their enforced lay-off, the hosts flew out of the blocks through Almiron’s rapid strike and continued to have the better of the first half, posing a constant threat on the break.
However, West Brom grew into the game at the end of the opening 45 minutes, improved further after a half-time rejig, and was rewarded with Furlong’s equaliser.
Pushed back, Newcastle introduced Gayle to make his return from a knee injury suffered in a pre-season friendly against Crewe.
He immediately saw a header cleared off the line by Matt Phillips, but another header, from a wonderful cross supplied by fellow substitute Jacob Murphy, left Sam Johnstone with no chance.
West Brom empty-handed again
West Brom arrived in the north-east of England with only one away point all season, a single win in the Premier League, and on the back of a capitulation on being reduced to 10 men in the 5-1 defeat by Crystal Palace last weekend.
If manager Slaven Bilic was under pressure and in need of a reaction from his players, the early signs were not promising.
From a West Brom kick-off, a long ball saw Ivanovic outmuscled by Callum Wilson, with Joelinton collecting the ball to square for the free Almiron, who finished from an angle.
The Baggies were disjointed and toothless, missing the guile of Matheus Pereira, beginning his suspension for last week’s red card.
After two goals in the past two weeks, Conor Gallagher kickstarted West Brom before Bilic’s half-time intervention breathed life into his team. The experienced Charlie Austin was introduced to provide a threat up front, while Phillips was released to play further forward.
It was Phillips’ deep cross that provided the goal, Furlong energetically nipping in ahead of the dithering Jamaal Lewis to poke a smart finish inside the post. For Furlong, it was a first Premier League goal some 24 years after father Paul last scored in the top flight.
West Brom were dominant, Newcastle pushed back, yet the visitors could not create another telling opening.
And, just as Bilic changed the game with his substitutions, so too did Bruce with the decisive introduction of Gayle.