Our nine match winning streak came to an end with an unexpected defeat in front of a full house against struggling Blackburn Rovers. Rafa rang the changes from the win down at Leeds with no less than six changes to the starting line up including a rare sighting of the lesser spotted Jesus Gamez and also saw Chancel Mbemba make a return to the team after a while on the bench.
The first half was pretty turgid stuff. We struggled to get into any sort of rhythm going at all and the visitors were the better team in the first period whilst never seriously threatening. A podgy looking Danny Graham held the line well and Darlow was forced into a save to tip a looping header over from a corner, whilst Graham himself forced another stop whilst the main source of excitement at the other end for us was a ridiculous decision by the referee not to award a backpass – yes, it was really that thrilling.
The second half started a little better and Atsu, who had barely touched the ball in the first half had an early chance to putus ahead but screwed a shot wide when played in at the back post. I thought that he (along with Ritchie) was really poor today and I’m not convinced by him at all but he was far from alone in a disjointed performance. As with the first half, the majority of our forward play involved lumping aimless balls up into the vague direction of a poor Mitrovic and our only semblance of half chances came from a couple of efforts by Hayden from outside of the box.
Shelvey and Clark both forced saves from their keeper but Gamez was stretchered off with a serious looking injury midway through the half, to be replaced by Dummett. Ex-Smoggie Marvin Emnes came on for them and he made a big difference to the game, dragging our defenders around and looking a nuisance, firing just wide shortly after coming on as they started to get back on top. They got the only goal of the game with about a quarter of an hour to go with a soft goal. Clark failed to pick up Mulgrew from a corner and he poked the ball past Darlow in the six yard box with the defence looking static.
Gayle was introduced with ten minutes to go and he had one of our best chances of the day to level the game with just a few minutes to go, but he seemed to stumble before screwing Ritchie’s pullback over the bar – it’s very rarely that he doesn’t hit the target and it clearly wasn’t going to be our day and despite a couple of late corners that came to nowt, we came away with the result that we probably deserved.
There was so little of note to mention in the game that it’s almost difficult to string a report out on the back of it but it’s fair to say that we missed the clinical touch we’ve had in recent weeks. Mind, if the run was going to come to an end, I’d rather it was today than Tuesday night as it would be really gutting to drop out of the cup at such an advanced stage with as insipid a performance as today. We’ll be fine in the league, we came up against a decent and well organised side today, shit happens. Hull and Forest have the potential to be two cracking nights for us and I think the lads have earned enough goodwill this season to shrug out shoulders and brush this one off. Onwards and upwards!
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Darlow 6, Yedlin 5, Mbemba 6 (Gayle n/a), Clark 5, Gamez 5 (Dummett 6), Ritchie 4, HAYDEN 6, Shelvey 6, Atsu 4, Perez 5, Mitrovic 4
Ref – Coote – 6 – No really important decisions to make
Our Fans – 5 – Another incredible turnout, but like the team it was flat
Their Fans – 7 – They’ve generally brought a good turnout up here and they were decent
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
The Blackburn (h) issue of The Special is still available and all you need to get to it is to click here.
Its absolutely FREE and if you wanted every matchday issue of The Special e-mailed straight to your in-box, just sign up for it here.
There is of course the small matter of Alex’s match preview to get through if you haven’t seen that yet. See below.
The current issue of true faith (TF127) available for download and all you need to do to get at it is click on the image below.