We drew the curtain on a turbulent 2014 at SJP with a welcome three points in an entertaining match against an iffy Everton side. Williamson returned to the team for Steven Taylor, with Cisse coming back in for Armstrong from the side that lined up at Old Trafford and the likelihood of a much needed win looked slim when they took the lead within five minutes.
We’d barely woken up after coming out when Gouffran stood and watched as they broke down the wing, with the resulting cross being turned home by Kone with the defence collectively failing to deal with his run. Bad goal to concede and when we struggled to get any sort of foothold in the game for the following ten minutes, there was understandable grumblings amongst the support. However, the Toffees never really got hold of the game as we feared they might and it was soon United that started to get the better of the game.
I’m going to come over all Arsene Wenger (yes, yes I know) here because I didn’t see a pivotal moment in the game at the time when Cisse lashed out at Coleman after being pulled back but according to a couple of texts I got from mates, it was a definite red and having seen the replay they were right. Fortunately for us he was still on the pitch a few minutes later to convert our equaliser just after the half hour. A deep cross to the back post was pulled back from the byline by Williamson of all people and Cisse was there to smash home past Robles. We’ve missed a regularly fit Papiss Cisse for a long while now and the shape of the side with him and Perez in it is a mile better than without them.
Barkley came on for them at half time but the second half was very much ours and we took the lead shortly after the restart through the majestic Ayoze Perez. Tiote’s ball found the little Spaniard on the edge of the eighteen yard box and though the chance looked to have gone when the ball got caught between his feet, he still had the werewithall to compose himself and stroke a fine effort inside the near post past a flat-footed Robles. Again, he was our top man and this is not hyperbole, but I haven’t been as excited about a Newcastle player since Andy Cole. Shearer was better, as were a couple of others, but in terms of a ‘buzz’ in watching a centre forward play, I’ve never felt owt like it for years and I know there are plenty in the same boat – the lad is an absolute joy to watch.
With Sissoko driving the side forward and Colback again solid in midfield, we were having much the better of the game and we looked to habe put the game to bed with twenty minutes left when a Janmaat ball was poorly dealt with by Barkley and Colback ran on to the subsequent fumble to finish smartly with the keeper rushing off his line. We gave the tiring but excellent Cisse a rest for Riviere and looked to be coasting before sub Mirallas pulled one back with a few minutes still remaining on the clock. Baines played a hopeful through ball which Alnwick should have done way better with but with the keeper flapping, Mirallas was able to chip a finish past him to set up a nervy finale.
They threw men forward and Pardew inexplicably chose to repeat his last minute substitution against the Mackems, bringing Cabella on for Gouffran, who had been visibly limping for a good ten minutes but in the end we hung on relatively comfortably with Everton failing to capitalise on our nerves. We could have made it even more comfortable when with virtually the last kick of the game, Perez was teed up on the corner of the eighteen yard box and saw a magnificent controlled strike come back off the post.
A good win in the end and one that arrests our recent slide. We carried less players today I thought. Williamson had a rare solid game, Gouffran though not brilliant contributed slightly more than he has been (not difficult mind) and having two forwards playing off each other helped massively. If the rumours swirling round about Pardew going to Palace turn out to be true, coupled with this victory, we could be about to get the best late Christmas present ever. Fingers crossed.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Alnwick 5, Janmaat 7, Coloccini 6, Williamson 7, Dummett 8, Sissoko 8, Colback 7, Tiote 5, Gouffran 6 (Cabella n/a), PEREZ 8, Cisse 8 (Riviere 6)
Ref – Pawson – 7 – Didn’t really notice him which is always good
Our Fans – 7 – Like the team, better in the second half
Their Fans – 6 – Excellent numbers but to be honest, barely heard them.
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Eyes Wide Shut – 29/Dec/14.