This turned out being a very very good day indeed following a dramatic turnaround from a disinterested and lethargic first half performance to a committed second half one with new found vigour. The first news of the team sheet didn’t inspire any confidence with Perez in front of a midfield which had a pedestrian look to it. I thought Perez may struggle but had absolutely nothing to lose with Cisse and Riviere both unavailable.
The walk to this ground doesn’t get any better as the years go by. Plenty of boarded up old municipal buildings and shabby shops alongside Kebab/Jerk Chicken houses and the remaining pubs on the High street. Mind, the pub we usually go to, The Beehive has transformed itself from a decaying Mock-Tudor Alehouse with a weed-strewn beer garden to one which has a bar with craft beers and 8 Real ale hand pulls. It also was selling that faux-gastro favourite, the Pulled Pork Hot Sandwich. The food idea just won’t work pal, it’s a match day bar and nothing else!
Anyway, despite Perez immediately being isolated up front with none of the five man midfield offering support, United made a start of sorts with Perez nearly connecting with a Dummett cross and the Full Back himself shooting well wide and high from 30 yards. Our best chance of the half came when a Sissoko cross was bundled by Lloris but Colback had a horrible swipe at it from close in and missed completely, though he recovered to give a committed display later on.
Spurs, however, quickly grabbed the lead on 18 minutes after a cross from the left was easily headed in by an unmarked Adebayor after the defence was left stretched from blocking attempts by Chadlis and Eriksen, Spurs most impressive player today. From there Spurs took control and United never threatened or looked to have any desire to either. In fact, Spurs could really have taken the game in those 25 minutes but were pretty listless themselves and created little bar Eriksen setting up Rose the fire wide from 18 yards.
Report of the equaliser cannot be made sadly, as I was chewing the fact with TF’s own Ted Edwards when the away end went a bit mental momentarily when Sammy Ameobi scored his first League goal for the club after 10 seconds. To his credit, and its rare and hens teeth that he earns it these days but Pardew’s Half Time double substitution of Ameobi and Cabella for the utterly ineffectual figures of Obertan and Anita did change the game. Ameobi’s direct running and ability to actually control a ball caused Spurs real grief and they were unsettled by it. In addition, Sissoko grew in confidence after continuing to waste possession in the first 45 minutes.
With Spurs now pressed to attack this left more space for Cabella who looked far more at ease, and shortly after Eriksen had missed a good chance, Cabella then provided an excellent cross for Perez to bullet home a head past Lloris to inexplicably put United 2-1 up after 58 mins. The away end, which was a mixed through the game, now sensed an unlikely win with Cabella latching on to an interception from Ameobi went on a good run on the left and came close hitting the side netting after choosing to shoot.
The expected Spurs assault never really came and the defence held firm marshalled by a much improved Coloccini and with lots of commitment from Janmaat and Colback. Eriksen had another chance deflected over the bar and Harry Kane came close after just coming on shortly after. Pardew made a slightly risky move by taking off an admittedly knackered looking Perez for Hiadara but Ameobi continued to keep an effective presence to harass the Spurs backline. Aaron Lennon came on and both he and Harry Kane had pot shots from reasonable distance but never troubling Krul, who looked confident coming for crosses and looked more of his sure self. He even had an own goal chalked off when Eriksens corner had been correctly judged to have curled out of play. The win was seen off without much difficulty but tangible and unexpected joy in the away end.
Whilst I don’t believe for a moment this takes much if any pressure away from Pardew or the team, it is a vital, badly needed win. I made it before the game that we have 4 genuinely winnable matches before the turn of the year (WBA, QPR, Burnley and Mackems). We have 1 win so far in the league and bear in mind that we had 5 under our belt in 08/09 before New Year so to win today is a massive boost. We desperately need to push on though and really make it count against an unconvincing Liverpool and eminently beatable WBA and QPR. Hell, we might even win at Man City in the League Cup this week. Have a spring in your step comrades, it’s been a while eh!
Newcastle United: Krul 7, Dummett 6, Coloccini 7, Taylor 6, Janmaat 7; Gouffran 5, Obertan 4 (AMEOBI 8), Sissoko 6, Colback 7, Anita 4 (Cabella 7); Perez 6 (Hiadara n/a).
Subs not used: Elliot, R.Taylor, Ferraya, Armstrong
Ref: Anthony Taylor
Ours: 6. Got better as the match went on. Some of the usual “Bantz” chants and the return of the dreaded Pogo. A few Spurs fans commenting to other Mags on how great we all are on the train back to Liverpool Street, which is nice isn’t it?
Theirs: 4. Poor. “You’ve never won fuck all”. No wonder Germany pisses all over English football when it comes to atmosphere.