United put the angst of the last few days behind them to earn a valuable three points in front of a stirring SJP crowd. Rafa made the big decisions, dropping Lascelles, Perez and Murphy from midweek and gave a surprise start to Mitrovic and after the worrying noises coming from Rafa, the crowd buoyed by another great display from Gallowgate Flags were overwhelmingly behind the team and the manager from the off.
We dominated the first half and looked keen to atone for Wednesday night and Hayden and Diame both fashioned chances for themselves that forced saves from Carson. After a lengthy delay from a bang to the head for Russell, the Derby striker recovered to test Darlow with a low strike that was saved comfortably but we finally took the lead just before the half hour. Mitrovic played his part, laying a ball into the path of Ritchie, who fired it past Carson with the help of a deflection – no more than we deserved though. Me and my da were having a laugh about Mitrovic in the second half – you’ve never heard a pundit look back on a player’s career and say ‘He was absolutely brilliant with his chest wasn’t he?’ but that is basically the only strength I can see in his play. Anyway.
Diame came close to doubling our lead shortly before half time, building on his own personal contribution to our performance by firing a shot to be well saved by Carson. As well as the display on the pitch, the other notable upturn in the first half had been from the stands, where support for Rafa poured down.
The early part of the second half followed a very similar pattern as we remained well in control of the game. Our flow was disrupted when Hayden limped off shortly after the restart, but Perez came on to a great reception, which spoke volumes of the crowd’s attitude to the game and he responded in kind with a busy performance. He came close to getting our second, when he lofted the ball over Carson, who had raced yards out of his box to meet the striker, cleaning him out in the process. The challenge looked at very least a foul and could arguably have been something more serious for the keeper, but the ref gave nothing – another absolutely shit official to grace the field in the Championship.
Derby only came to life when they introduced Camara and Anya from the bench and injected some pace into their play but before their late flurry, we had another chance to wrap it up, Mitrovic screwing an effort from a Ritchie head down wide before being hooked for Sammy. The last ten minutes was a wholly nervy affair though as the visitors sprung into life. The hitherto anonymous Tom Ince ghosted in behind our defence but sliced his shot wide from six yards out with the goal at his mercy, although I’m sure the linesman’s flag was up. Hearts were in mouths again right at the death, when a corner was played into our box and with Carson up from goal, a header from their centre half was hacked off the line to safety.
We hung on for the vital win and the team and manager were cheered from the pitch to cap a really positive and enjoyable afternoon. Derby provided decent opposition but we were more than a match for them and I’m not one of these Sky wanker ‘twelfth man’ cliché merchants, but I genuinely think that the crowd played a huge part in getting us our three points today. The support to the manager was loud and clear, but equally to the players aswell and they responded. A really satisfying victory – we’re top with two thirds of the season to go and depending on the results tomorrow, could be six (seven with goal difference) points clear of third place with a game in hand. Breathe again!
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Darlow 7, Yedlin 8, Clark 7, Hanley 8, DUMMETT 8, Ritchie 8, Hayden 7 (Perez 7), Shelvey 5, Gouffran 7 (Lascelles n/a), Diame 8, Mitrovic 5 (Ameobi n/a)
Ref – Bond – 4 – Poor and for the second time in a week, unaided by terrible linsemen.
Our Fans – 9 – Spot on. There’s been plenty of stick handed out after some games and rightly so, but I thought we were magnificent today
Their Fans – 7 – Excellent turnout from a very well supported club but a bit quiet
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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true faith – ISSUE 129 – Chapecoense Football Tragedy