Ritchie celebrates his winning goal against Wigan in fornt of the Gallowgate/Milburn corner

MATCH REPORT: Newcastle United 2 Wigan Athletic 1, St James’ Park, 1/Apr/17, KO: 3pm Att: 51,849.

by • April 1, 2017 • Match reportsComments (14)1965

United secured a vital three points and all but secured a return back to the top flight thanks to Huddersfield’s late defeat at home to Burton as we ground out a victory against a Wigan side heading the other way.  Rafa only made one change from the starting line-up at Birmingham a fortnight ago, bringing Gayle back in for Murphy and the side looked fresher for their breather in the early stages as took the game to the visitors early on with no real efforts on target to show.  Shelvey in particular looked a yard quicker and most of our forward momentum early on came from him, his best effort coming as he drove onto a one-two before firing at the keeper from outside the area.

As has been the case for most of the season at SJP, our periods of possession were interspersed with nervous moments as the visitors broke forward but for the most part, Lascelles and Hanley looked in control at centre half.  Still, as the half drew on, we looked to be short of ideas before we took the lead with ten minutes to go before the break.  Diame, who up to that point had been very poor again was the architect, sweeping over a fine ball across the box that Gayle could barely miss from six yards out to put us ahead.  A good time to score given that we were labouring at the time, to quell any grumbles going into the break.

Ritchie's shot rebounds off post and he is about to run onto it and head ball in to make it 2-1The momentum didn’t last though and we were pegged back shortly after the restart.  Jacobs levelled for the Latics with a composed lob over the onrushing Darlow but if the finish was clever, the defending leading up to it certainly wasn’t as we opened up with alarming ease through the middle.  The equaliser rattled us and for a while, Wigan got on top and created a couple of good chances to take the lead, the most notable of which saw Colclough shoot right across the face of goal.

The nervousness didn’t last long though as we regained the lead through our man of the match, Matt Ritchie shortly before the hour mark.  He first fired a shot that the keeper somehow managed to tip onto the bar but sheer determination saw him win the follow up to plant a header across the goal into the back of the net before celebrating before booting the corner flag up in the air.  The winger’s attitude has been first class this season and his endeavour pulled the team along at times today.

Wigan never really offered anything after the winner and we brought on three subs with Atsu, Hayden and Perez all entering the fray.  We could have finished things off late on when Ritchie seemed to be clearly chopped down in the area but the referee looked like he didn’t want to make a decision and the appeal was waved away.  The game fizzled out after that, aided in part by thousands of fans mystifyingly leaving well before the final whistle but when it came, it was greeted with the knowledge that we’re all but there now.

Performances aren’t important in any way at this stage of the season, nor is the goal difference.  All that matters now is getting across the line and, nine points clear with seven games to go, it looks like we are going to do it at a canter.  All of which will make the season a resounding success.  For me, it’s time to relax and acknowledge that and enjoy what remains of a promotion season.  Hopefully it will be the last for a while, so let’s all chill out and make the most of these last few weeks, eh?

Keep the Faith

Newcastle United  – Darlow 6, Anita 5, Hanley 6, Lascelles 7, Dummett 6, RITCHIE 8, Colback 6, Shelvey 7, Gouffran 5 (Hayden 6), Diame 5 (Atsu 6), Gayle 7 (Perez 6)

Ref – Coote – 5 – We’ve had worse but that’s damning with the faintest praise

Our Fans – 6 –Alright on the whole but why would a quarter of the stadium empty when you’re a goal up in a vital game with five minutes to go for fucks sake?  Were 10,000 wives imminently going to give birth at the RVI?  What can be so important?

Their Fans – 3 – Shite, as always.  About to settle back at their level. 

GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892

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14 Responses to MATCH REPORT: Newcastle United 2 Wigan Athletic 1, St James’ Park, 1/Apr/17, KO: 3pm Att: 51,849.

  1. Jarra mick says:

    I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of people leaving before the end are bonafide, dyed in the wool, 3-D cunts and just about sum up what modern football support is all about. Of course I would excuse that bloke whose wife is in labour. The rest of them should hand their season tickets in on the way out.

  2. Bob says:

    I think 5 for Anita is a bit harsh. He did well going forward and was involved in some good play. I thought he deserved more than, say, Dummett or Colback. He is generally good on the ball but a bit lightweight for a midfield role.

  3. Steve Nesbitt says:

    Our fans are poor its only the east corner that sing all match. I was in the west corner no passion no support just criticism !! We are top of the league we should be singing our hearts out ….

  4. Castle Farm Mag says:

    Good report, thanks, I stayed till the end. Here are my thoughts to date about recent games. Just an opinion:

    Shhhh, I have something secret to tell you, now please don’t take this the wrong way, but the quality of football we’ve been watching at SJP since Boxing Day has been pretty dire.

    I write this the day after the Wigan game, the result of which, with Huddersfield losing, has probably all but secured NUFC a Top 2 finish.

    Now I love the fact we are top of the league (albeit second tier, as whatever the re-branders do, it IS the Second Division) and I love the fact we have scored more goals than everyone else; but, the functional, ‘win-by-a-goal-will-do’ football, where the result is far, far more important than the performance, has been dog-shit boring for the last 3 months.

    I know that teams seem to lift their games when they come to SJP, as some of the opposition, especially from the bottom end of the table, have actually looked rather accomplished up here. Yesterday, Wigan looked comfortable enough, had a few chances & half chances and performed well across the 90 minutes.

    But, I just cannot help but feel that our 4-5-1 (it’s not really ever a true 4-4-1-1) actually gives the opposition too much of the ball, and thus hope, which can lead to at least chances of a goal being conceded, and then a struggle to re-take the lead (or take the lead – as in the Bristol City game).

    Is it too much to ask to play two strikers, when you are top of the table, are at home, and are playing a team in the relegation spots?

    And, as for attacking width, the grass around the corner flags is untouched, and looks as lush and verdant as in August.

    Rafa is doing exactly what is asked of him, he is regularly winning games and I have no quarrel about that at all.

    Since the mid-1980s, when I first started actually going to NUFC matches, not many managers have had such a good result ratio. However, it’s the ‘style’ in which these results are garnered that is becoming tedious, frustrating and generally annoying – as the actual football is so boring to watch.

    Now, I don’t mind watching shit football, I’ve been going to NUFC games home & away for over 30 years now, and I love the odd ground bag as a neutral (with over 150 stadia notched across 5 continents) – so I know shit football, and NUFC shit football especially. I can tolerate and sometimes even quite enjoy shit football; but boring football is so, well, boring.

    Back in 2009 we had character, pomp, style and we had fun. There were captains and ‘talkers’ all across the park – Nolan, Barton, Carroll with even flaky players like Ameobi, Smith (32 league appearances – yes, I know, amazing – I’ve checked), & Gutierrez all playing big parts.

    I was still in my 30s then (just), so perhaps now that I’m in my mid-40s, I have drunk the well of hope dry, and see things through more cynical eyes.

    The ever-present cloud is always there, as, should promotion happen, then we still have Ashley and a tight restriction on money to be spent, and we have an even more Southern-dominated top flight sprinkled with clubs of such drudgery and statistics-obsessed football such as Stoke, West Brom & Burnley. Yes, big parts of me actually prefer the Second Division – anyway it’s where it really started for me back in the day as a regular.

    NUFC.com tells me that Rafa said yesterday: “The main thing was to get three points” – ok, we did and that was about that.

    Is it possible Rafa is a bit of a Spanish Sam Allardyce – but with much better results? Dare I ask that question?

    It is also quite possible I am a fucking ungrateful, miserable, mealy-mouthed whinging twat who should just be thankful – I can live with that too.

    Rafa also apparently said “I would like to score five goals and be amazing”, but I am not really sure he means that at all. If he did, he’d play two strikers and tell his players to push forward a lot more – so at least there might be five decent attempts in a game.

    Maybe it will happen once promotion is achieved, maybe the football will be more beautiful without the pressure, maybe that well of hope is not completely dry? I dunno.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Rob says:

      If you play two strikers you have to be prepared to cede control in the midfield, unless you play with three at the back.
      For far too long we’ve been a club whose fans, like those at West Ham, have a belief that we should be playing fantastic attacking football. We’ve been a club that’s played with the heart rather than the head. For years we’ve been dire defensively, with no structure or shape, no discipline, and very little tactical nous. We cannot really compete with a number of teams that now reside in the upper echelons of the PL in terms of the players we can put out, but with a manager like Benitez we can at least have a gameplan that can, with the right application and endeavour, yield points and results. We need to be a smarter, cannier team. Even though we were relegated last season, Benitez had us playing a much smarter type of football than I’ve ever seen us play, and we got good results against tough opposition.
      The Huddersfield away game, for example, was a great performance, but, due to our often risible home support, not one we could have achieved at SJP. Especially in the second half, we sat deep, invited them to play higher and higher up the pitch, always knowing that we would have plenty of room for Dwight Gayle to run into. I’m enjoying watching a manager and a team who actually think about the game for a change.

  5. kenny says:

    Hanley,captain in waiting, he talked the back four through all afternoon. I would like to see him & Clarke play together.
    People leaving early get on my tits, ive started refusing to let them past me, sit back doon & support your team.

  6. Andy H says:

    CFM. Canny post that mate. Very enjoyable read.

  7. Bob says:

    Funny question that… Rafa as the spanish Sam. No comparison, really in my view. I think Allardyce’s greatest acheivement is that he has made a great living out of being distinctly average. Facing relegation? Who you gonna call? Of course, you can say that about quite a few managers on the merry go round. It’s a sad fact that so many keep getting re-employed. Sometimes they’ll have a decent run of results e.g. Pardew but in the end they revert to type. Sadly, this generally means a big pay-off, then wait for the next mugs to take them on. How owners keep falling for this amazes me. Surely they could simply insert a clause that if results fall below a certain level then no compo will be paiid. Some managers have the cv to avoid it, Rafa being one and the comparison with allardyce is more that just results/points, actually winning things or even getting close to it knock Allardyce out of the park.
    Yes, it would be great to watch entertaining football, a la Keegan, but of course you have to have the players to do it. At present we don’t. How many of our team would get into Keegan’s, none I would say. Maybe a couple would be considered by the top six in the premier. Darlow for one I would suggest. other than him it would probably be rumour only. I’ll take the current state of play as the only game in town is promotion and Rafa seems to be acheiveing that. Next season we’ll see what happens. Hopefully Rafa will stay and if he does that will mean he will get the support he wants from Ashley, but even then it won’t happen in a season. He clearly wants to build something and I hope he gets that chance as the alternative is to get to see more championship games. Some of the games this season have been poor ( not as bad as the referees mind) but the results have been great, hence we are currently top. Enjoy that bit.

  8. Anton says:

    Like CFM, I think the football is not entertaining and I’ve have also had a go at Rafa for not playing two forwards. But then reality dawns and I realise that Rafa is making do with a truly limited team in an extremely competitive league.
    My guess is that he would love to have Townsend to trouble the grass near the corner flags and A N Other attacker or very attacking mid-fielder. It’s obvious that Diame and Mitro were meant to play this role – unfortunately, it’s also obvious they are not up to it. And Townsend did not arrive in January. And neither did anyone else.

    Which is why I share CFM’s worries about next year – if/when we go up, will Ashley deliver?
    How many of our lot would start in a Premiership game?
    My guess: Ritchie, Gayle, Shelvey and Lascelles are ready for the Premiership.
    We also have a few that represent a gamble, but have what it takes and could do very well at a higher level: Clark, Darlow, Atsu, Yedlin.
    And a few squad players who will be useful as capable under-studies or impact subs: Dummett, Gouffran, Perez, Haidara, Mbemba.

    By my count, that leaves 14 vacancies – or 12 if we exclude the goalies. Will the man at the top authorise a dozen or more transfers? Will Rafa accept turning up for the first premiership game with Colback and Anita as NUFC’s mid-field dream-team in August 2017 (personally, I’d resign)?
    The fun never ends round here.

  9. Castle Farm Mag says:

    Strangely CFM’s real first name is ‘Anton’ and I have never met another one. Am I in a real life Fight Club scenario with dual personalities? Anyhoos: I also realise the : “reality that Rafa is making do with a truly limited team in an extremely competitive league” and agree. My complaint is very minor – for now; but years of this current style would be awful. The Sham comparison was of course only to our present football style – of course RB is far more successful.

  10. Castle Farm Mag says:

    In reply to BOB: “Some of the games this season have been poor (not as bad as the referees mind) but the results have been great, hence we are currently top. Enjoy that bit.” I will indeed enjoy the results (and have done). I agree with all you say. I did think twice about submitting my lengthy piece. It was meant to spark rational debate – which it has. Thanks for the feedback one and all.

  11. Peter Shearer says:

    Yes, it looks very likely that Rafa will have done the job we all wanted him to do. And soon will come the real battle for our future, Rafa’s ambition versus Mike Ashley’s business brain. Many seem convinced that Ashley has learnt his lesson, so I guess we will soon find out if he has.

  12. Castle Farm Mag says:

    MM: Just read ‘The Special’ the day before the Burton home game and two days after my above posts – ok, ok, I see you point and like the section:

    “Is It Too Much?
    Q: ‘Is it too much to expect Rafa to play two up front at home?’
    A: ‘Yes, it is.’ ”

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one! Stay well, CFM

  13. Stephen says:

    We could play a bit more direct dynamic exciting football like say…… Fulham and be 7th !!!!!

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