So this was our first ‘6 pointer’. It’s hard to describe how this opposition could be described as a big game following several ’embarrassing’ cup knock outs to the same lot in recent years. Alas, you have to respect the competition around you and Brighton are supposed to be it. In the end it was a case of there was only ever one side taking the points here.
This was the first game where Rafa’s side has looked truly settled. Even Reading had its moments of unease before we ran away with it. In the first few games the lack of confidence was so obvious it showed in everything we did. Decision making goes out the window when players have no confidence in themselves. Passes were either too early when we had time or too late when options were on. As a result there was just no flow to our game and we created very little. Saturday was different. Even without Gayle (or Mitro) we looked a threat; we looked solid; we were good.
I don’t want to be too critical of Brighton or Chris Hughton but there was no point in this game where I thought they
looked like a side we should be worried about. Chris Hughton’s plan seemed to be to disrupt us, and I have no doubt the turn around from the coin toss was his idea. So Newcastle were playing towards the Gallowgate first half. Rafa, I’m sure, has no time for such superstitions and we took the game to Brighton from the off.
Possession changed hands a lot in the first 15 but the back four looked surprisingly comfortable, giving away nothing. Lascelles was far closer to the player who came to prominence at the end of last season. Mbemba and him will be hard to dislodge after this performance. The solid start quickly became a great start a free kick on the left was delivered perfectly by Matt Ritchie and converted by none other than Lascelles. A great header and the ground erupted. The first goal this season that had the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. We’re back!
The crowd was lifted and the players were lifted too. We were attacking with real purpose against supposedly our biggest threat this seasonand it should have been 2 or 3 by half time. Gouffran had the first of a flurry of great chances. Picking the ball up on the left from the excellent Jonjo Shelvey, Gouff cut inside and past several men before hammering towards the top corner…denied by the underside of the bar. Moments later he was there again as a cross floated to him at the back post resulted in a naughty volley that fired just over. I said it last on Tuesday, he may not have the makings of a great player but he knows how to play on the wing and puts in some hard fucking graft. I feel ashamed to have been so critical of him last season as you can see the work ethic there. In this league he will be a big player for us. There were chances for Ritchie and Diame soon after forcing decent saves but we were cruising.
Second half didn’t see much change to be honest, a few more chances for us and some fun refereeing. Brighton hit the bar after what looked like an offside had he ground raging. (Everyone was wrong haha). It was Shelvey however, who had an excellent game, that finished it off. I literally don’t understand when a free kick from relative distance results in the goalkeeper deciding on a wall for one side and then proceeds to stand at the other side of the goal. I know this division is a questionable standard at times but it just invites any half decent hit on target to be a free goal. It was a decent hit, by no means going top corner, but enough to finish the game. Shelvey fully deserved it though; he ran the show.
An amusingly soft red card saw to it that there was no sweat for the last 15-20. It was more of a Sels calamity than a foul. Sels however had a respectable game and looking more confident in what he does. Hope that the early games were just nerves.
So, a great result. Leaves us joint third in the league and reassuringly the only 2 teams above us are Fulham and Huddersfield – played before the team looked ready. If they are the main great then I am no longer at all worried about promotion. Rafa’s magic is working and things are going to get pretty special.
Newcastle United: Sels 7; Anita 7 (Jesus 7), Mbemba 8, Lascalles 8, Paul 7, Hayden 7, SHELVEY 9, Gouffran 8 (, Diame 8, Ritchie 8, Diamé 7 (Colback 6), Perez 7
Subs not used: Darlow, Clark, Hanley, Armstrong.
Our Fans: 8. Great atmosphere for a big game relative to this league. Gallowgate Flags looked decent but we need more volunteers.
Their Fans: 4. Poor turnout and poor showing from those that bothered on a glorious Bank Holiday weekend.
SIMON CAMPBELL – You can follow Simon on @simoncampbell11
Dive into the true faith post-match Podcast, recorded in the pub straight after the game with authentic background noise and happy Mags drinking beer until the bars shut.
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