Players applaud crowd as SJP celebrates promotion at full time

MATCH REPORT: Newcastle United 4 Preston 1, St James’ Park, 24/Apr/17

by • April 25, 2017 • Match reportsComments (6)1067

United wrapped up promotion in style with a comprehensive win in front of yet another 50k+ Championship crowd at a chilly SJP.  Ciaran Clark came back into the side with Mitrovic and, surprisingly Rob Eliott back in net and after our perfect weekend of results the stage was set for us to return back to the top flight.

Players celebrate 4th goalWith less than ten minutes on the clock, that return looked to be a formality when Perez put us one ahead.  Ritchie whipped a corner in and from the slightest of flicks from Lascelles, Perez got there first along with Ciaran Clark to almost jointly shin the ball home.  Any thoughts of a breeze to the three points were swiftly extinguished though as Preston came back strongly immediately from the goal to have the better of the rest of the half.  Johnson had a great chance to level when he was played in behind the static Anita (who had a nightmare in the first period) with only Eliott to beat, but the keeper stood tall to make a great stop from what looked like a guaranteed equaliser.

The visitors didn’t have to wait long though and were level after quarter of an hour.  Barkhuizen, who tortured our defence in the opening period with his pace, found himself out wide with time to measure a lovely floated ball in to Hugill, who converted his chance from six yards out with our centre halves all at sea.  We looked disjointed after their goal and they posed a threat every time they broke forward, meaning that it was slightly against the run of play when we went back ahead almost on the half time whistle.  Hayden was the architect, winning the ball in the middle before playing in Mitrovic.  Credit to the Serb too as he chose to calmly square the ball into the path of Atsu, who easily finished the move inside the box to send us in ahead.

We were much the better side after the restart but the result was put to bed just after the hour mark, when we won a penalty and saw Preston reduced to ten men when Gallagher flung himself across the goal to make a fine save with both hands from a Hayden effort, seizing on the rebound from Lascelles’ header from a corner.  It was the most blatant red card you could ever see and despite the umming and aahing of Madley’s appointment given his background, he’s actually been probably the most competent ref we’ve had this season.  Hell, he didn’t even award an indirect free kick, place Matt Ritchie on the Sex Offenders Register and rule that the next three matches should be placed behind closed doors when our magic winger (Player of the Season by the way) slotted him the penalty in fine style.

Within a minute, we’d got our fourth in slightly fortuitous circumstances.  Shelvey’s inswinging free kick was sliced against the post by a Preston defender and the ball spun off straight into the chest of Ayoze Perez, who nudged the ball in from a yard out without knowing much about it.  The little Spaniard has improved towards the final third of the season and could (given our likely resources) be a really important player for us next season and he deserved his goals tonight.  Gouffran, Colback and Murphy all made an appearance late on but we never really went for the jugular as we were happy to see the game out in front of an appreciative crowd.

The defining image of the season came after the final whistle blew and almost all of the ground stayed back to applaud the team off, saving the biggest cheer for Rafa, who acknowledged the Gallowgate and left numerous hairs standing on the back of numerous necks.  Let’s face it, United haven’t given us too many moments of unbridled happiness in the last decade and a bit, but that was certainly one of them and no-one can underestimate the gratitude we feel towards the manager for dragging the team down the right fork in the road over the past nine months.

There is so much work still to be done but for now, we’ll not dwell on that.  This is the fourth promotion in my lifetime and whilst I doubt that 83-84 and 92-93 will never be matched for different reasons, this is perhaps the most important one we’ve ever achieved.  And achieve it we have, through toil, effort and a masterclass in management from Senor Benitez.

Get the f**k in.

Keep the Faith

GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892 
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6 Responses to MATCH REPORT: Newcastle United 4 Preston 1, St James’ Park, 24/Apr/17

  1. Yes well done to the players and Rafa for doing what needed to be done. It has been good to see a team of players who care about their performance and seem to be in it together. Rafa is simply class, but I am not sure how to read his actions after the game. We will see, as this has been coming for a long time and will now be down to whether Ashley matches Rafa’s ambition. That assumes that the lack of action in January by Ashley has not already made Rafa’s mind up. Whatever Rafa decides he has already done us a big favour and we are all right to acknowledge that.

  2. Be honest, if the fat lad was your boss, publicly refused to back you in January and generally can’t be trusted, would you be committing to stay. If Rafa receives a better offer, then he should go.

  3. Dave says:

    Agree with the above opinions. Defining few months ahead for our club to see if old chubby fingers will indeed back Rafa (as he allegedly promised when he took the job). Although if January is anything to go by….. If he does cough up then I’m confident Senor Benitez can build a decent enough squad to help us at least compete in the Prem and avoid having to fight relegation year after year like our illustrious cousins down the road. However if he doesn’t play ball then the last year has done no harm as far as Rafa’s CV is concerned who could walk into most of the top jobs around but would be catastrophic for us. Only time will tell I suppose but in the meantime, thanks Rafa.

  4. Mike Dixon says:

    Thank you Rafa. I hope that the issues are sorted BEFORE season ticket renewals are issued. If Rafa goes then I go

  5. Scott says:

    For the moment, let’s enjoy the next two games and the promotion party. After that, I just don’t know.

    I do think Rafa will walk if the money isn’t forthcoming to buy the players he thinks he needs to stabilise the club in mid table and then kick in for Europe in the following season.

    I just can’t see Ashley releasing the cash to do it though. Didn’t we ’empty the bank account’ towards the end of last season? There doesn’t seem to be much cash in the most recent set of accounts. The club (under Ashley) buys players with payment up front and sells players in instalments. So we will have extra TV money, which Ashley is likely to trouser to repay the loans made to keep the club afloat this season, and then payments due on players already sold. That doesn’t add up to a lot of cash and if the club continues to pay in full upfront for players, cash is what they will need.

    This to me doesn’t look good as far as Rafa being given significant sums to spend and I think he will therefore regretfully walk.

    The only other hope is that Ashley finally sells the club. We would certainly be attractive to any potential buyers now that we are back in the big league but Ashley may not sell given the TV money coming his way.

    Its bloody depressing! Screw it, Rafa walking on the pitch at the end of the match was the best moment I’ve had supporting the lads in a long time, let’s enjoy it whilst we can!

  6. Mike Dixon says:

    thought the score was 4-1 not 2-1