The ‘banker 0-0’ ended up being our most entertaining game of the season as we shared six goals and a well deserved point with a bedraggled Man United side in a game full of incident. The game was preceded with the promising signing of Jonjo Shelvey, who will certainly improve what is now looking a half decent midfield but we lined up with the same side which started our last league game at Arsenal.
We got off to a terrible start and found ourselves one down inside ten minutes in highly dubious circumstances. A deep ball to the back post was met by the head of Fellaini only to come off the flailing arm of Mbemba at point blank range. Mike Dean seemed to pause before spotting a Man United appeal and awarding a harsh penalty. Rooney tucked the spot kick away and we looked a dejected side at a very early point in the game. In reality, we didn’t get in the game at all in the first half hour and Rooney outpaced Coloccini to drag a shot just wide of the post with Eliott beaten and it was difficult to see how we were going to get back into the game.
That looked to have changed when a neat interchange of passes between Perez and Wijnaldum left the Dutchman with the goal at his mercy but he put a weak side foot straight at a grateful de Gea. Shortly afterwards Janmaat was chopped down in the box but Dean waved what looked like a legitimate penalty away and from nowhere we were back in the match, or so it seemed. With five minutes to go to half time though, it looked to be game over as Man United doubled their lead. Rooney, who despite being roughly eight stone overweight, still had enough of a turn of pace to beat Coloccini regularly in the first half sprinted on to a ball and laid it off to Lingard, who side footed his finish through the legs of Eliott – poor goal all round to concede.
We still found time to drag ourselves back into it shortly before half time though, when Mitrovic cushioned an excellent knock down into the path of Wijnaldum who volleyed a smart finish past de Gea to send us in to the break back in contention. We picked up where we’d left off at the start of the second half and buoyed on by the crowd who sensed us getting on top, we fashioned a chance for Sissoko but he shot straight at the keeper with options in the box. At the other end, Lingard fired over in yards of space inside the box when it looked easier to score but our pressure told when we were awarded a penalty after Smalling hauled Mitrovic down inside the box. He seized the ball himself from Perez and composed himself to stroke a fine penalty home. I thought it was his best game for us tonight, he fed mainly on scraps but kept going and showed some bottle to take the penalty – he’s still a long way from being the answer as a goalscoring centre forward but tonight will be a big boost for him hopefully.
We had our gander up and Man United were rocking, but we couldn’t capitalise and we started to wane a bit despite the best efforts of the excellent Sissoko and Wijnaldum to drive us on and with ten minutes to go, the game looked to be heading for a draw but agonisingly, we found ourselves behind again as Martial was allowed to run through a few tackles on the edge of the box. The ball fell slightly fortuitously to Rooney but there was no argument with his finish as he curled a fine effort past Eliott into the top corner.
Fellaini then had the chance to kill the ball off but contrived to head the ball straight at Eliott, who deserved credit for spreading himself well, from about two yards out. Starting Fellaini in effectively a holding midfield position with Mata sat on the bench says a lot about van Gaal’s philosophy and the miss proved costly for them.
We threw Gouffran and Toney on but as we entered the 90th minute, another defeat looked inevitable before a long ball fell to Dummett at the edge of the box and he lashed an unstoppable piledriver past de Gea into the roof of the net to spark jubilant scenes around the ground. To coin a cliché, the final whistle was greeted as if we’d won the game but after the torment of the recent weeks, it was nice to walk away from the ground with a smile on our faces – fair result, great effort and a good deal of character. More of that and we’ll stop up – Saturday against a West Ham side on the edge of the Champions League places and with a formidable away record will be an even greater test than this one, so let’s not undo the good work eh?
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Eliott 5, Janmaat 6, Coloccini 7, Mbemba 7, Dummett 7, Tiote 7 (Toney n/a), Sissoko 8, Colback 5 (Gouffran n/a), WIJNALDUM 8, Perez 6, Mitrovic 7
Ref – Dean – 2 – Got loads of big decisions wrong, has been shite for years, is he not ready to fucking retire yet?
Our Fans – 7 – Game of two halves, excellent in the second half, deathly quiet in the first
Their Fans – 7 – Good songbook, noisy when things were going their way, reverted to type and stood in total silence when they weren’t
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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