An incredible game, even by our standards saw us come from behind with one minute of added time to go to win the game in front of a delirious SJP in a game which saw our season completely turn on it’s head in the space of sixty seconds. Rafa took Sels out of the firing line to give Darlow a start in net and Colback came in for Hayden but otherwise we were unchanged from the draw at Villa and the first half hour was probably the best we’ve played all season.
We were at Norwich from the off and had them on the ropes to such an extent that we could easily have been three up
inside the first twenty minutes. The eventual hero on the night, Dwight Gayle looked like he was going to continue his lean spell in front of goal when he spurned two chances inside the first quarter of an hour. I say spurned, but that would probably be harsh. The first was a great chance when Ritchie took a ball from Shelvey on the volley back across the box, but Gayle could only direct his effort against the keeper. The next came from a long clearance upfield from Clark, which Gayle expertly took down but could only steer his effort just wide of the post.
Shelvey was at the centre of everything we were doing going forward and as flaky as he undoubtedly is, at the top of the game he looks a class above. He took a knock towards the end of the first half and had less of an impact therein but he was controlling the game and his pass released Dummett down the left. He played over a superb ball which was met by the head of Ritchie, but his effort cannoned back off the bar with the keeper beaten. Still there was only just over twenty minutes on the clock when we finally broke the deadlock. Again Shelvey found Ritchie out right and he fizzed a low ball into the box which Gayle met on the run to steer past the keeper. He came close again with a shot fired at the keeper from a dinked ball from Shelvey but our total dominance started to fall away as the half came to an end and they equalised after ten minutes or so of at least competing in the game.
The ball came from the spot after a lunge from Gouffran in the box, with Dorrans coolly converting past Darlow and although we could feel aggrieved to be going in only on level terms, the first half of the second period was poor as Norwich got on top. Jerome put them ahead within the first ten minutes of the restart and in fairness it was a fine finish as he held off his man to curl an effort past Darlow into the far corner. The night looked to be heading towards disaster when they extended their lead with twenty minutes to go. This time, Colback was weak as piss in midfield and having being shoved off the ball by Murphy, the Norwich striker saw his shot loop off Lascelles to leave Darlow flatfooted and put them 3-1 up.
Almost immediately though, we were back in it. Again Shelvey was the architect, playing a raking ball through the middle to Gayle, who again killed it with one touch and fired past the keeper. A goal that was both simplistic yet very well executed. Rafa immediately brought Hayden and Mitrovic on for Colback and the poor Diame and almost immediately, the Serb was in the book for getting involved in a confrontation that had nothing to do with him – idiocy. To be fair to him though, he did get about their defenders and almost got a header on target with the 90 minutes coming to a close.
Atsu was introduced to the fray and the assistant held up six minutes, which looked generous and when five of them had passed, we were resigned to a disappointing defeat. With time ebbing away though, Yedlin slung a ball in the box and Gouffran got up to bundle a header past McGovern to salvage what looked like a point. The game had barely restarted though when satisfaction gave way to outright ecstacy. This time, Mitrovic used his aggression to good effect, nodding a long ball from Shelvey down to Gayle on the edge of the box. His touch fortuitously took him past the defender and he rifled his shot low past McGovern to spark bedlam in SJP amongst the 80% of Mags that had stayed to the end.
I don’t think the value of the win can be overestimated. At 9:37pm, we were sitting in mid table having lost four games before the end of September and three of those at home, cursing our missed chances for the second game in a row. By 9:39pm, we were third, having beaten probably our main challenger for promotion and absolutely crushed their spirit along the way. There was a lot right tonight, a bit wrong, but ultimately it was a game that will go down in history on NE1 and one which I firmly believe will define the rest of our season. Get the fuck in.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Darlow 6, Yedlin 6, Lascelles 5, Clark 6, Dummett 5 (Atsu n/a), Shelvey 8, Colback 6 (Hayden 6), Ritchie 7, Gouffran 7, Diame 5 (Mitrovic 7), GAYLE 9
Ref – Bankes – 6 – Funnily enough, given that he dished out nine yellow cards, I actually thought he was alright.
Our Fans – 8 – Delirious at the end and actually, I thought they supported the team well even when we trailed
Their Fans – 4 – Barely heard them at all
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on@truefaith1892
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