Have you heard? Brighton have won every game this season they’ve taken the lead. Their home record is the best in the division. They’ve as a good a manager than United at this level, maybe better. They’ve got a better squad. Their training facilities are better. They’ve got the experience. Knockhaert is the best in the league. Brighton are the best team. They’re going up. They’re a Premier League side in waiting. How aren’t they further ahead of Newcastle?
It started badly (what’s new). Madley gave the pen. Of course he gave the pen. One nil before we’d caught our breath and Rafa’s bold move to play without a recognised striker was under scrutiny. United, backed by 2,700, dictated the play and controlled the game. Half chances came and went all half. Some for Brighton as Darlow makes two good saves. United grow into the game Brighton started throwing bodies at the ball and looking a bit desperate desperate but the one nil lead presented a veil of security. They gave up at one nil in the first half. Sat back and invited us on. Big mistake. We are not Reading. Ritchie clipped the bar, Diame gets in the way on another Ritchie chance and then he forces a good save. Matt Ritchie – dead good at football. Thank god he plays for us. For Rafa. Atsu should level it on half time and Atsu hits the ball straight at the keeper. That was frustrating.
Concourse consensus is we’re at the races tonight. Bristol this is not. Brighton are all set pieces. They’re competent and play some nice stuff but mostly they’re the hard bastards who turned up at St James’ in August and we wondered what all the fuss was about. They’re massive but they hit the deck regularly. It’s agreed that we should win this provided Madley doesn’t have the spotlight again and we limit their set pieces. That’s all they’ve got.
The second half sees United dominate but don’t create. Goufrann (great industry, all night) wins one from under the nose of the keeper. Chip him, go around him – just don’t kick it straight at him. We’re winning the ball back so easily and Brighton are nowhere. Counter attacks fizzle out and the team that cut Brighton apart can’t get in the game. They’re one nil up but the Amex is nervy, quiet. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Everyone watching knows there’s one team at the races and one team getting the next goal.
Daryl Murphy. Big Daryl Murphy of Luton Town, Waterford, Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town comes on and caused chaos. He comes on at the right time. Not when you tweeted on ’68 that it was a joke there’d been no changes and not on ’75 when you threaten to switch off because you’re so enraged ‘mitro’ isn’t getting a sniff. 15 minutes for Daryl to win all his headers, hold up every ball and create panic in the Brighton ranks. He almost sneaks on in at the near post and United have a corner. What happens next is farcical. You make your own luck but Mo Diame bags another important goal. Not his best game tonight – it hasn’t quite happened for him this season. From the away end I’ve no idea how it went on. From the television pictures I’ve no idea how it went in. Pandemonium in the away end. A lucky goal by a generally unlucky team. I’ll take it. Thanks.
My mate turns to me and says take a draw now. Absolutely not, I say. The team agree. Only one team in this game and only one winner. The Brighton fans know it. All the positive talk and they’re remembering the choke last season. Benitez introduces Ayoze while everyone’s still celebrating. What happens next is a highlight of my Newcastle United supporting life.
Matt Ritchie, man of the match (again) gets the ball 70 yards from goal. No pressure from Brighton. Why would they pressure him? There’s nothing on. He kicks the ball long, really long. He wellies it. The wind has been strong all night and is blowing towards the away end, and into Matt Ritchie. He has to put extra power into the pass. I’ve never seen a bloke hit a ball so hard and it land so softly. The touch from Atsu is immense, Brighton are nowhere and Perez finishes calmly to trigger what can only be described as scenes in the away end.
The game was won. Brighton broken. I think they believed their hype. Darlow has pulled off some good saves tonight, and performed well. Nothing there though that either wasn’t comfortable or from distance though. Dummet does well to clear one from under the bar second half, but that’s it. They didn’t get behind us once and they didn’t have me worried. Yes, 80 mins at one nil down and I’m thinking about Huddersfield and how we play like this and win. Then we score and there’s only one winner.
Paul Dummet has his best game in black and white. Knockhaert is the prince of the Championship. Already player of the yes to those that choose these things (probably). Twice Paul Dummett has allowed him to barely register this season. Twice a lot of fuss about nothing. Lascelles won everything and Glenn Murray got nothing beyond his assist from Madley. The players heads didn’t ever go down and it’s the result of the season. Newcastle United away from home: a machine. I never thought I’d type that, even at this level.
Brighton departed at 2 1. I’ve criticised SJP for early walk outs but there was at least seven minutes to go and they weren’t interested. They should still get promoted. Six from our twelve gets us to ninety. Let’s go again and do that on Saturday and we’re almost there.
Back to tonight though and it was a pleasure to be there. The last feeling of Euphoria like that was probably Spurs last year, but I wasn’t there so Man Utd 2013 was probably it for me. Rafa over to the away end and beaming at full time. Great noise. A great night to follow United.
MotM: Paul Dummet
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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