Our third comfortable victory in a week saw us put some daylight between ourselves and the competition at the top of the table after another enjoyable afternoon at SJP. Rafa made three changes from Oakwell in midweek with Yedlin, Colback and Perez coming in and the latter put us one up before many had taken their seats with the quickest Championship goal of the season with exactly a minute on the clock.
Dummett swung a ball into the box and Gouffran flicked it on for the little Spaniard, who steadied himself and steered a lovely volley into the bottom corner, leaving the keeper rooted to the spot. We had a warning about ten minutes later that the game wasn’t going to be a procession when ex-Magpie Leon Best was allowed to turn on the edge of the box and crack a shot against the crossbar with Darlow beaten and Ipswich fashioned another chance shortly after when Webster ran a long way with the ball before firing just wide from the edge of the area, again with Darlow looking stranded.
We had the lions share of possession but were struggling to break down a solid Town defence until Shelvey dinked a
wonderful ball into the box to Gayle. The striker took the ball to the side of the Ipswich keeper but looked to be surely pulled down. Certainly it would have made no sense for our man to have dived with the goal at his mercy but the ref bottled the prospect of issuing a penalty/certain red card for the keeper and the visitors got away with it. The only other notable piece of action in the first period was Best dislocating his fingers, which were promptly popped back into place, causing the poor lad to crumple in a heap and the crowd wince – he never re-appeared for the second half and I hope he’s OK – he was certainly never a world beater, but he was certainly never a waster either.
Patience was the order of the day in the second half which followed a similar pattern to the first as we dominated possession, with the visitors offering very little threat of their own. We certainly controlled midfield and I thought the much maligned (by me to be fair!) Colback had one of his better games for us and Ritchie was again very lively and it was our wide man that fashioned the second goal to give us some breathing space with twenty minutes or so to go. He worked his own space before spotting Perez unmarked in the box and his inch perfect ball was stroked home by Ayoze with another great cushioned volley – excellent technique and good to see the little fella back into form.
After waiting 70 minutes between our first two goals, we only had to wait another couple of minutes for our third, with roles reversed. This time, Perez picked Ritchie out on the edge of the box and he still had a lot to do, but made it all look very easy as he caught the ball with the inside of his foot for a fine, precise finish into the bottom corner. All three goals were executed with real skill and we tried to play football all game – you can see the confidence is there in the team and they deserve great plaudits for playing with patience and no little skill against an Ipswich side that although not great, were certainly not shite either. Mitrovic was brought on to a’whoopin’ and a’hollerin’ but didn’t really have time to get involved and Atsu and Hayden were also given a late run out as we played the game out professionally for yet another clean sheet. The defence look well settled and Clark is impressing me more and more each game.
Really, what is there not to like at the minute? I’m thoroughly looking forward to the ample delights of Blackpool next Saturday night after Preston, who are on a canny run of their own (doing us a favour by turning over Norwich today) but how can we not be confident at the minute, backed by another massive away following. Life is good, amigos.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Darlow 6, Yedlin 6, Lascelles 7, Clark 7, Dummett 7, Colback 8, Shelvey 7 (Hayden n/a), RITCHIE 8, Gouffran 7 (Atsu 6), Perez 7, Gayle 6 (Mitrovic 6)
Ref – Adcock – 5 – Missed the blatant penalty on Gayle, otherwise alright
Our Fans – 7 – Bit of a lull in the first half, otherwise good
Their Fans – 7 – Good turnout and backed their team well
GARETH HARRISON – FOLLOW GARETH ON @truefaith1892
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