Our final game in a terrible 2015 at SJP saw us slump to a damaging late defeat, leaving us in the bottom three and starting to wonder seriously which league we will find ourselves in come the turn of next year. De Jong was mercifully dropped to make way for Perez, with Mitrovic in for the injured Cisse and it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that we didn’t have a kick for the opening quarter of the game as Everton played us off the park whilst lacking a killer touch up front.
They fashioned the first chance early on when Elliott saved smartly from Mirallas and Lukaku looked a danger playing off the shoulder of Coloccini whilst Lennon was able to get to the byline on a couple of occasions but couldn’t find a man from his pullbacks. Almost half an hour had passed before we got any sort of look-in and it came through the best chance of the game to that point as Janmaat got forward to put a great cross on the head of Mitrovic bang in front of the goal but he failed to get anything but minimal contact as the ball skimmed wide, not for the first time in a very similar position this season. Is he closing his eyes when the ball comes to him or what? He looked like he was blowing out of his arse by this point too.
Lukaku looked like he was going to score in his ninth consecutive game when he raced clear of the defence but Eliott spread himself well to block his effort – fair play to the keeper aswell, I’ve been as critical as anyone about him prior to this spell since Krul’s injury but he’s arguably been our best player in recent weeks. Wijnaldum had a chance from a header and Perez failed to connect to a Mitrovic touch but on the balance of play, we were grateful to go in level at the break.
We did start the second half much better and some awful decisions from the referee, the atmosphere started to build as we felt a sense of injustice – in fairness, the official was just straightforwardly shite rather than necessarily biased and we were thankful again to Elliott who saved with his feet from Lukaku and then again from a difficult looking shot from Lennon. Sissoko started to get a hold of things from the middle for us and he fashioned the golden chance of the game when he broke free and put over a great hanging ball which the Serb couldn’t miss, but miss he did, heading well wide from six yards out with the goal gaping. We simply cannot afford to miss chances like that but Mitrovic is woefully short of what we need and looks a million miles away from a Premier League goalscorer.
Colback was the unlikely source of another excellent cross, finding Wijnaldum at the back post but his powerful goal-bound header was saved at point blank range by Howard. With Deulofeu brought on and Everton looking dangerous in the latter stages, a point would have been a reasonable result and hearts were in mouths when Lukaku was only denied by tremendous last ditch tackles from Dummett and Mbemba in the same move. The hammer blow arrived from the subsequent corner though as the clearance fell to Cleverley at the edge of the box and his header looped over our keeper and defender into the back of the net – a soft goal and a groan of real deflation round the stadium.
A single point from Villa and Everton at home is a desperate return and West Brom on Monday looks like a must win to me with Arsenal and Man United next up and the Baggies going through a dodgy patch of their own. Our major concern is a striking lack of goals or pace and if those aren’t addressed in January then I’m afraid we’re going down.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Eliott 7, Janmaat 6, Mbemba 7, Coloccini 6, Dummett 6, SISSOKO 7, Anita 6, Colback 6, Wijnaldum 7, Perez 6, Mitrovic 5
Ref – Mason – 3 – A total pain in the arse, let blatant bookings go, gave yellows for nothing and was a hindrance to the game itself.
Our Fans – 7 – Supported the team well, spurred on in large part by the ref rather than the players
Their Fans – 7 – Excellent turnout as always, weren’t the noisiest they’ve ever been
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