A routine win took us to within a point of the top spot as our excellent recent run continued. Rafa brought Perez in to partner Gayle and the game started brightly. Brentford actually had the best chance in the early exchanges, when our defence parted to allow Hogan a free header from eight yards out after a deep cross. Luckily, the ball was just too high for him and we didn’t have to wait long to impose ourselves on the game.
Shelvey, our outstanding performer on the day was pulling all the strings from the off and he put over a fantastic deep cross from a good 40 yards out, which landed plum on the head of Ciaran Clark to bullet a header past Bentley in their net. Clark, a player I was highly dubious about signing, has looked the part in the last few games and also stood out today. The first goal arrived after just ten minutes and we only had to wait another five before extending our lead. This time, Shelvey’s long ball was too deep but Brentford failed to clear it and when it landed at Gayle’s feet on the edge of the box, he feinted inside and steered a fine effort into the bottom corner. Gayle is another that looks the business and looks well capable of 20-odd goals for us this season, which we’ll need to go up.
The dreary weather from earlier in the day had given away to sunshine and all felt well with the world as we took control
of the game and threatened more. We thought the third had come just after the half hour when a Gouffran effort was wildly deflected past their keeper off Perez but replays later confirmed that it was a clear handball. Despite being well behind the pace, the Bees nearly got themselves back into it shortly before the break, but Darlow was equal to a smart snap shot and palmed it away to safety.
Atsu had our final opportunity of the half and from where I sit in the East Stand, it looked in all the way when he pounced on a ball that came to him on the edge of the box but curled a lovely effort just wide.
We put the game to bed within a couple of minutes of the restart with a goal that was neat in it’s build up. Shelvey was again the architect and having being slipped in out wide, he twisted past his man and squared an inch perfect ball for Gayle to tap home his second of the game from as many yards. We were starting to look like we might hand out a thrashing but from nowhere, Brentford gave themselves a glimmer of hope. It was a poor goal to give away too, with our defence seemingly asleep from a corner, allowing Hogan a free header from point blank range, which he gleefully accepted.
Any fears of Brentford getting themselves back into it quickly dissipated as they lacked any real ideas to open us up.
Lascelles went off with an injury to be replaced by Hanley, Yedlin came on for the promising Atsu and Lazaar was brought on for the solid Gouffran and the last half hour meandered by without any real incident, save for a half chance for Lazaar at the death and a late attempt from distance by Gayle to score back-to-back SJP hat-tricks – answers on a postcard but we were talking about it at the match and I can’t remember a player that’s done that?
Overall, there was nothing to criticise in either performance or result and we looked every inch a favourite for promotion. Shelvey has lost some weight and looks interested, putting together his most consistent run since joining us – good coaching innit? We look very tight as a unit, regardless of the changes that Rafa is making and although we’ll have a lot tougher tests than our visitors today, they arrived here at the right end of the table and were put away with ease. I’m looking forward to Barnsley on Tuesday night in a cracking old-school away end with kicking on 6,000 Mags and everything just feels dead…enjoyable at the minute doesn’t it? Ah knaa, ah knaa!!
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Darlow7, Anita 7, Clark 8, Lascelles 6 (Hanley 6), Dummett 7, Colback 7, SHELVEY 9, Atsu 7 (Yedlin 6), Gouffran 7 (Lazaar n/a) , Perez 6, Gayle 8
Our Fans – 8 – It was always comfortable and the support was spot on
Their Fans – 6 – Good turnout but shit songbook
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
The issue of The Special Newsletter for this game is still available. To get at it, just click here.
The true faith Podcast lads have been busy this week and as part of their activities have completed something of an oil-check of the season so far. Not only that they have caught up with respected NE-based football journalist, Martin Hardy who last year published Touching Distance and has recently published Tunnel of Love. Listen to Martin crack on with Alex and the lads about his new United book. Just click here
We published the new issue of true faith this week. Issue 127 is now available for you to download at your leisure. The new issue is over 90 pages of great fanzine writing. true faith is Newcastle United’s longest running and most popular fanzine by a proverbial English country mile. It is no idle boast to claim true faith as the most widely-read, independent, fans’-led publication in the UK. It is now available in exclusively digital format, reads brilliantly on any device you care to name (our preference is tablet or i-pad) and it is also absolutely FREE.
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