MATCH REPORT: NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 STOKE CITY 1, St James’ Park, 16/Sep/17, KO: 3pm. ATT: 51,795

by • September 16, 2017 • Match reportsComments (10)1223

 

 

 

These are the days. Cherish them. Remember them. Get carried away. 

United won the game against a more than competent Stoke City side. They should have won it long before they did, but let’s not be picky. Three wins in a row. First time since November 2014. Toddlers weren’t born, Alan Pardew was a manager and we still weren’t that good then. Not like now. Rafa’s-shoe-string mags were good, and they’re getting  better.

The day started with a check of twitter and the nufc twitter account telling me there was a 10% of rain. No jacket and a taxi into town therefore it started to rain quite heavily. We headed on a route that would eventually read Five Swans – Junction – Trent. The rest of the lads were at the  new North Terrace (which sells true faith Ale) and as usual it was bouncing, with the Premier League filming the lads. We watched ‘well run’ Crystal Palce lose again whilst waiting for the team news and word of if Rafa would keep the same side that won at Swansea.

Rafa changed the full backs and brought back Christian Atsu (oh he so wonderful) and it looked like our strongest available side bar Big Florian, who lost out to the lads who’ve done so well in the last two. Stoke lined up 3 5 2 1 (according to Sky) and it made a nice change that we kicked to Leazes first, like the old days.

Stoke started well. I was surprised not to see the pressing game we used so well against West Ham in effect as we sat off Stoke and they controlled the game. They pressed and probed without creating anything and we looked comfortable without threatening. Their three CB’s were given time on the  ball and we concentrated on forcing them out wide, where most of their balls were wasted.

Things changed in the twentieth minute when Perez won back poession in midfield (like the first goal v West Ham) and Matt Ritchie got the ball. Brilliant ball to the back post and the coolest man in NE1 scored a quite simple but brilliant goal. Christian Atsu (oh when he scores a goal, it’s beautiful, magical) couldn’t get in the second division team for most of last season. Now he’s absolutely mint. Rafa, that. One nil and six of us  in Block V (which was mint again. I’m so happy there. Move there, if you can) braced ourselves for some defensive action until half time. It didn’t happen.

United dominated and Stoke recoiled. Joselu had the big chance as a fortunate ball found its way to the big man and his touch was good, the finish OK but the keeper in the way. That was the game, we reckoned, if it had gone in. Stoke failed to threaten and their early dominance was a distant memory. Half time came and went and we cracked on from where we left off.

Right at the start of the second half had another chance to win it. Atsu (when he runs down the wing he’s fast as lightening) played a brilliant ball through to Joselu. The touch,  the first touch – it’s brilliant. It’s out of his body. It’s the thing me and you can’t do. The finish – we think you’d do better yet we wouldn’t, cos we’re not footballers, but he should have won it there and then. He played well again did Joselu, but he should have three in three. That’s probably why he cost £5m but is worth £12m. Maybe.

Stoke come into because they’re a reasonable side. Elliott’s palms are stung and they’re in it again. The goal comes from nowhere, it’s 19.40 on Saturday and I’ve not seen a replay but it comes from nowhere. A good strike, yes, but once again Shaquiri beats Elliot from distance like down there in 2015. From the back of the Gallowgate it looks like the keeper should save it. I’ll leave that to you lot to decide having seen replays.

United had been Miles on top and the equaliser was harsh. The game should have been won. That’s your difference between the divisions right there. We’d been punished for not taking our chances and they’d scored from nothing. I’m a positive bloke when it comes to NUFC but I feared the worst. We’d been good, but they were level. Shit.

Within ten minutes though Captain Jamal had us back in front from another Matt Ritchie corner. Towering. 23 years old, our captain. Winning us games and that. He’s only going to get better. St James’ breathed a sigh of relief.

The game was unbelievably open from this point. Just before we took the lead Rob Elliot had pulled off a great save from a corner which proved to be crucial. After the goal Stoke had chances but failed to test the goal keeper, one in injury time when they really should have done better.

We could have had a penalty close to the end of the game when Atsu (it’s frightening, and he makes all the boys sing) went clean through and seemed to be tackled from behind. It looked like such a clear penalty that it mustn’t have been? Either way I though Atsu should have shot before that point and put the game behind Stoke. I’ll forgive him though because he’s mint and I love him.

Peter Crouch caused chaos as he always do against us. Dunno why he didn’t come on earlier/start but that’s none of our business I suppose.

The final whistle was was greeted by huge cheers and we bask in the glow of three wins in a row in their Premier League. A massive achievement. The fixtures have been canny, but I’ve seen us lose enough ‘soft’ fixtures (if such a thing exists anymore) in my time not to take this for granted.

Everyone grafts. Everyone contributes. I don’t do match ratings but if I did they’d all get a 10 because why the hell not. The lads from the bench all contribute. Competition for places is fierce. Overall I’m just dead happy. It won’t always be like this. So savour it. It’s why we go.

What a set of lads.

ALEX HURST – FOLLOW ALEX ON @tfalex1892 

 

 

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10 Responses to MATCH REPORT: NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 STOKE CITY 1, St James’ Park, 16/Sep/17, KO: 3pm. ATT: 51,795

  1. Grahame Johnson says:

    What about us mental old men in block u just to your left along with some canny lads lasses and bairns, singing for the whole match is what it is all about TOON-UNITD

  2. We’re seeing the Atsu who wascthe Player of the Tournament at the ACON a couple of years ago. That’s Rafa!!

  3. Dave says:

    Head in hands. Sweating. Couldn’t look at times. Deep breaths. Fingers crossed. Heart racing. Blow the bloody whistle you twat. Total and utter relief. Pint.
    That’s football that is. Been a while.
    Thank you Rafa.

  4. Michael says:

    Couldn’t wait for your match report to come out tonight, because we WON. And it is dripping with the emotion we all feel. Elation, relief, BELIEF.
    Look how much we have changed from last season, two of our biggest personalities Shelvey and Gayle not in. Atsu like a new signing.
    No getting carried away, but we can start to take staying up as done and start to think about how high we can get.
    Great feeling.

  5. Markus says:

    I love this. Expected at least a point at Huddersfield, would have taken a point at Swansea and to be honest today. 3 points expected and I have 6. Rafa is building a team. This seems a team worthy of traditional NUFC supporters. We all work hard. Its nice to see it reflected in our players on the pitch. We will win more than we lose. 40 points first. Then onwards

  6. Peter says:

    Love your passion !!!

  7. Andy bee says:

    Staying up is far from done but now we all recognise it CAN be done. The prem is cack once you take the money lords out of it ,with the work ethic and organisation Rafa embeds we are well capable of topping the also rans and being anywhere from 8th to 10th. If that happens and jabba either backs us or sells we could make the next step……..happy days. (Great to feel the ground bounce with multiple songs echoing and clashing again)

  8. Phil Bell says:

    The first match report I’ve read in years which made me feel genuinely gutted that I no longer go. Positively dripping with the euphoria that only a good win by a great bunch of lads creates. How long it’s felt since the players were such likeable, committed people. Cracking stuff, Alex. Bravo Rafa.

  9. Rob says:

    There were times yesterday when fans in the East Stand the bloody EAST STAND) were on their feet applauding. Not for a goal or for the scintillating attacking football we’re told that Newcastle fans demand, but for Perez running 20 yards to cut out a backwards pass in Stoke’s half; for Yedlin sprinting on to a Stoke player before he had time to turn; for Ritchie and Hayden harrying and pressing their left side back to their goalkeeper.
    I like this group of lads. Really like them. There may be (probably are more than 3) teams better than us in this league, but you will struggle to find one that has more heart and more commitment. Before Rafa, we’d become a team that didn’t- that couldn’t – battle to three points. Captain Jamaal arguing with the referee before dancing in to the six yard box to plant a header in (I like to think he shouted WANKER as he headed it); the fact that we’ve moved from a left-footed central defender at left-back to a right-footed central defender at left-back and he plays solidly while nutmegging their star player in the most comical manner imaginable; Matt Ritchie: came sprinting out of the womb, was sprinting when Thauvin,Cabella, and Ben Arfa strutted their hour on the stage, and is still sprinting now – except for when he swings a corner in; and on and on. These lads have more character and fight in them than countless others we’ve watched who maybe had more ability but lacked that crucial attribute; they want to play for Newcastle United, and they play like they want to play for Newcastle United. Aristotle said: “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.”

    In short, Rafael Benitez is mint. Let’s do everything we can to keep him here. HWTL!

    • Mike Dixon says:

      HEAR HEAR one man makes a hellova difference. It could be quite scarey if Rafa had got players he wanted the sky would be the limit. Place was bouncing and it was like the “good old days” with king Kev. Thanks Rafa

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