A last gasp winner from returning hero Loic Remy saw us grab all three points from a tepid match that will not live long in the memory. Our ranks were strengthened through the return of Colo and Remy with Santon, Taylor and De Jong all replaced from the starting line-up and on a breezy afternoon, our opening play was fairly bright.
Remy had a daisy cutter early on and Dummett whipped over a couple of useful looking balls but our early purpose withered away and after the initial quarter of an hour, it was Villa who got on top. They opened us up three times with almost identical moves down the right and Dummett looked particularly uncomfortable with the ball being whipped across the face of goal but on each occasion no-one was on hand to apply the finishing touch.
Most of the half could actually be described as boring and in a funereal atmosphere, I almost felt myself dozing off with little to stir the senses. Then, with the half time whistle approaching, we had the first of three good chances in the game. Remy intellegently held the ball up in the box and pulled it back to the onrushing Cisse but as has been the case so often this season, he fluffed his lines and blazed the effort over.
The second half fell into a very similar pattern of few chances and little excitement but as the half progressed, you started to get the sense that they were happy for the draw and after a fine challenge from the very solid Williamson and subsequent break, the crowd suddenly awoke from their slumber momentarily. De Jong was introduced for Cisse and as dubious as I am about him, his contribution ultimately probably won us the game.
Dummett curled an effort narrowly over and we were denied what looked a definite penalty for handball in the box but time looked to be running out on our efforts to actually score a sodding goal at home when some good pressure from De Jong saw him dispossess Vlaar on the byline and his well timed pull back to Remy saw the Frenchman hit the post with the goal to aim at when it looked easier to score. The collective groans only lasted a couple of minutes though when we finally got the winner just into injury time.
Again, De Jong was involved, albeit slightly less directly this time when he picked the ball up outside the box to shoot. His effort was deflected into the path of Remy in the box and this time, he controlled, side-stepped a challenge and lashed the ball past Guzan into the Gallowgate net to finally give everyone something to cheer about, with the striker whipping his shirt off in celebration.
There really isn’t anything else to report in in terms of ‘action’ but obviously, a win’s a win. We were starting from a spectacularly low base, but the performance was an improvement on the last two horror shows here and Colo and Remy added a level of class to the team that had been sorely missing whilst I though Tiote played well again and Williamson was very solid. Mind, Benteke appears to have gone from wonder boy to lumbering ox in the matter of months – he put me in the mind of Heskey today.
We’ve got a full month before returning to SJP again and in the meantime face trips to Hull, who could be preoccupied with the Cup and Fulham who will be desperately scrapping to stay up (and probably with another new manager by then) and whilst on paper, they are winnable games, I’m still less than convinced that this victory will spark a mini-revival. I’d like to be proved wrong.
In the meantime, the ‘magical’ 40 points have been reached, we’ve scored a last minute winner and I’m still laughing at the thought of that long bus journey back down to Birmingham for those dicks. It could, and has been, a lot worse.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United- Tim Krul 6, Matthieu Debuchy 6, MIKE WILLIAMSON 7, Fabricio Coloccini 7, Paul Dummett 5, Moussa Sissoko 5, Vurnon Anita 6, Chieck Tiote 7 (Dan Gosling n/a), Yoan Gouffran 5, Papiss Cisse 5 (Luuk de Jong 7), Loic Remy 7
Ref – Martin Atkinson 6 – Missed the penalty call but otherwise I thought he was fine. He’s one of the better refs for me.
Our Fans – 3 – Deathly silent for 80 odd minutes. 50,000 in current circumstances is nothing short of miraculous mind
Their Fans – 7 – To their credit, they were quite noisy. Mind, you could have heard a pin drop for most of the afternoon which probably helped.