PODCAST & REPORT: Brentford 1 Newcastle United 2, Griffin Park, 14/Jan/17, KO: 3pm. Att: 11,435

by • January 15, 2017 • Match reportsComments (5)1761

Daryl Murphy’s late header yesterday ensured that Newcastle will finish the weekend at the summit of the Championship.Phoenixlogo

The Irishman nodded in from Ayoze Perez’s superb centre to secure the win at Griffin Park when truth be told the hosts looked the most likely victors. Top scorer Dwight Gayle had earlier put United in front with his 20th strike of the season before Lasse Vibe poked in an equaliser shortly after the interval.

But it was Rafa Benitez’s side who took the spoils when Murphy rose above his markers on an afternoon where guts and endeavour shone through.After last week’s cup draw at Birmingham it was a much-changed United line up that took to the field on a crisp afternoon in West London.

Only Jamaal Lascelles, Jack Colback and DeAndre Yedlin retained their places in a much more familiar looking starting
Brentford2eleven.  Karl Darlow returned between the sticks, with Ciaran Clark – arguably the signing of the season so far – slotting in next to the skipper and Paul Dummett at left back. Isaac Hayden returned to the engine room, with Matt Ritchie and Yoan Gouffran also restored to the side.

And it was United who started more brightly, controlling the tempo of the game and winning a succession of corners in front of the travelling fans.

With Gayle haranguing defenders from the front Brentford struggled to put anything coherent together and it was the ex-Palace man who put Newcastle ahead inside twenty minutes with a sweet left footed strike.

The striker – the first NUFC man to notch twenty goals in a season since Alan Shearer – carried the ball from just inside the Bees’ half before unleashing a fierce left footed drive from a narrow angle.

After the goal the hosts began to threaten and Darlow was forced to be alert to come out and block Lasse Vibe’s effort.

Shortly afterward Gayle was forced to withdraw from the fray with a hamstring injury and the loss of the division’s top scorer changed the game completely. United’s previously visible high press become redundant and the homes side were afforded more time on the ball as a result. Some neat interplay between Perez and substitute Murphy almost saw United’s lead double, but it came as little surprise to many when the equaliser came shortly after the break.

After Darlow’s poor punch had failed the clear the area the United stopper almost made amends with a smart save from Rafa25the follow up.

However, the rebound fell kindly to Vibe who made no mistake from six yards out. Brentford took control of the contest with Newcastle’s cause not helped by losing both Isaac Hayden and then the midfielder’s replacement Vernon Anita to injury in quick succession. The latter was replaced by Grant Hanley and saw a change in formation to 3-5-2 which seemed to give some stability to the back line on what was an underwhelming afternoon for Lascelles.

Vibe, a constant thorn in United’s side, should have had a second ahead after a clever one two he could only watch on in anguish lofted strike hit the inside of the far post and was cleared off the line. It came as somewhat a surprise then when the winner came with just over 10 minutes of normal time remaining on the clock.

A misplaced Brentford pass presented the ball to Colback on the halfway line who found Perez out on the left wing. The Spaniard looked up and curled a sublime cross with the outside of this right foot straight onto the head of Murphy who had made a clever run to get between the home side’s two centre backs.

And the boys in blue held on through a nervy nine minutes of injury time, although not before the referee had turned down a strong penalty appeal and Darlow had made a smart stop away to his right to deny substitute Jota.

With Brighton slipping to an unexpected defeat at the hands of Preston, Newcastle returned to the top of the table with twenty or so games to go. It is often said that to win a division you have to win ugly at times and this was certainly the case on this occasion. But the victory came at a cost – perhaps most significantly with the loss of Gayle at a time when Alexander Mitrovic is already out, while the injuries to Hayden and Anita could see Cheick Tiote’s seemingly imminent departure delayed.

No one can fault the lads for effort but there are were certainly more questions than answers and many of these will need addressing over the coming month or so. Top marks for effort but the reality is there was little by way of spark and Rafa will be hoping to have a least one new face through the door before the window slams shut at the end of the month.

It is clear for all to see that United are much stronger down the right-hand side than the left, with Gouffran in particular offering little going forward and Colback – pass for the second aside – almost exclusively playing the ball backwards or sideways. The loss of Shelvey has been critical and his return should bring some much-needed creativity back to the midfield area, with our reliance on his passing ability evident while he has been missing.

With the next three league games all coming at SJP there is a great opportunity for the lads to sort out our home form, hopefully with a strong crowd backing.

SAM DALLING – Follow Sam on @sammyd767

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5 Responses to PODCAST & REPORT: Brentford 1 Newcastle United 2, Griffin Park, 14/Jan/17, KO: 3pm. Att: 11,435

  1. Andy says:

    I’m told that Rafa’s MO away from home, is to try to get an early goal then soak up the pressure . Which on the surface seems to be a good plan but I keep reading about the players suffering, looking exhausted, completely knackered by the end ? Cannot get to away games so just wanted to know if that rings a bell ?

  2. Wormickey says:

    Living in London this is only my second match this season. Listening to podcast now and here’s my two penny worth.-
    For all that we are top, this team will struggle in the premiership. I am a positive and optimistic supporter, but we know there are too many weaknesses.eg
    Perez is very skilful but does not influence the game enough. Too much waving his arms.
    Colback is not even championship level.
    Lascalles had a chance to show how he could dominate a game today, but he didn’t .
    Fuckin great to see an old fashioned centre forward display. Murphy was like Peter Withe. Knock ons, holding up well, scored. Keep him and cash in on Mitrovic
    For the time he was on the pitch, Gayle was fuckin top class. Right up there with Defoe. Spend 20 million now and get another like him and we will be on our way.
    I had 4 men behind me, talk about cup half fuckin empty!, we were 1-0 up and doing ok and they were shouting ‘ how way we should be beating this shite 4-0! ‘ and this was constant shite for 90 ( 99) minutes. Fuckin moanng, shut up. Don’t even bother coming to the game if it makes you so sad.

    • Alex says:

      Micky is say that we don’t need to worry about the Premier League until we get there.

      In recent years most of the promoted teams have stayed up or at least competed. Burnley are ninth for example.

    • Rob says:

      Ah, Peter Withe, there was someone who could put himself about. Regarding Mitrovic, I agree, if there is a lunatic out there willing to put up even half of what we paid for him we should snap their hand off. If Gayle is worth £10m then realistically what is Mitrovic worth?. Wouldn’t worry about this team struggling in the PL, Rafa will be looking to sign at least 5 new first team players if (hopefully when) we go up. Hard to knock them given their position in the league but agree that they aren’t the same standard as our last two promotion winning sides and would struggle in the bottom 6 of the PL as it stands.

  3. Gary Ĺockey says:

    Interestingly before the season started we were told Rafa knew nothing about the Championship. He therefore bought players to get us out of the Championship. Now the players are not good enough for the premier league. As Rafa might say, one step at a time. When we get promoted Rafa will address any shortcomings in the squad. As most of the people who contribute to this fanzine keep saying and which I agree we are privaledged to have such a great man(ager) at our club. Get behind him 100%.