Our mental run extended to six straight victories as we finally wore down a reasonable QPR side to momentarily propel ourselves into the Champions League places in front of a packed SJP. Injuries to Colo and Steven Taylor saw us line up with a makeshift looking defence and Ryan Taylor made his first Premier League start since his lengthy spell out from injury.
The opening half was entertaining enough with both sides trying to play some football. They were tidy and played the ball around neatly without having much of a cutting edge up front and we carried more of a goal threat without ever really getting anyone off their seats. Ryan Taylor had our best two chances in the first half hour – firstly shooting relatively tamely at Green in the opposition net from a pull back and then testing him with an improvised toe-poke from the edge of the box following some smart control from a corner.
Unfortunately, he left the field just after the half hour in what looked, from his reaction, like a recurrence of his ligament injury. The poor bugger looked in tears as he made his way off to a standing ovation and you can but hope for the lad that it’s not that, otherwise it could be the last time we see him on a football pitch again. Fingers crossed for him. The injury took a bit of the steam out of the first half and both sides left the pitch evenly matched.
The next twenty minutes followed a similar trend but we started to gain a stranglehold, especially in midfield where Colback and Sissoko were having excellent games and Perez, who again grafted his nuts off, could have put us ahead. Sissoko played a lovely, fainted ball into him but Green was off his line sharpish to block the shot. I thought it was more good save than bad miss watching it from the stands and we started to wonder whether 0-0 would be a decent result. Cisse was introduced for Cabella, who again I thought was poor, but our breakthrough came from a good team build up, which found Sammy out wide. His ball into the box was met by Sissoko who steered his shot past Green into the far corner of the net to rapturous cheers from the Gallowgate.
We never really looked in any danger of relinquishing the lead and we could have secured it in the final seconds when Cisse knocked the ball round the Green but then fluffed his shot with the goal beckoning to allow Barton (who was well received on his return back to SJP) to clear. I’m not sure if Cisse thought he was offside but with a bit more sharpness, he would have buried it. The final whistle was met with warm applause and much head scratching as to just how we’ve gone from relegation certainties to fourth place in a matter of a few short weeks.
We visibly look a more confident team, which you would expect after the run we’ve been on and again, it was pleasing to see us keep another clean sheet. Credit where it’s due to Williamson, I thought he was very solid and Dummett is looking the part at centre half. Sissoko has been excellent throughout this spell and was the best player on the pitch today and whilst I’m not for one moment brushing our awful last two years under the carpet, it’s just actually nice to be heading for a pint after the match where everyone has got a smile on their face. Long may it continue and if indeed it does for the next couple of games, we could have a cracking atmosphere on our hands when the champions elect roll into town at the start of December.
Newcastle United: Krul 7, Janmaat 7, Dummett 7, Williamson 7, Haidara 7, R Taylor 6 (Gouffran 6), SISSOKO 8, Colback 8, Ameobi 7, Cabella 6 (Cisse 6), Perez 7
Ref – Foy – 6 – I generally think he’s alright for us but he was a bit picky today
Our Fans – 7 – I don’t think anyone actually knows what to do with themselves, but we’re all enjoying it.
Their Fans – 7 – Decent turnout and they were fairly noisy. OK for London’s seventh biggest club.
Keep the Faith
Follow Gareth at @truefaith1892
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