Barnsley 0 Newcastle 2 – Tuesday 18 October 7.45pm
What a night.
Six thousand Geordies inside Oakwell and another couple of thousand at the St James Park beamback wishing they were there…
Newcastle United turned the screw on Barnsley over the 90 minutes and turned up the heat on their promotion rivals.
The first half saw Newcastle in complete control and the only thing missing, the goal their domination deserved.
Barnsley were very much playing like the away team and limited to a handful of visits to the Newcastle half and the only worries coming when a couple of generous free-kicks were given around the box, though the home side produced nothing of note from them.
It was a match played with high intensity and very physical at times, though Rafa Benitez has ensured that there is more than enough steel in this side to deal with balmy Tuesday nights in Barnsley.
News came through that Norwich had taken a 1-0 lead at Fulham in the 17th minute and doubled it after 41 minutes, so no going to the top of the league for us tonight, simply a case of ensuring we matched Norwich and kept pace with our fellow relegated rivals.
Four minutes into the second period and Newcastle had their lead, another period of intense pressure and goalmouth frenzy, before Dwight Gayle eventually put the ball into the back of the net from close range. Cue mayhem amongst the six thousand and no doubt the two thousand+ back at St James Park.
More news from Craven Cottage as Johansen pulled it back to 2-1 on 55 minutes, before then Martin equalised in the 66th minute, at that point Newcastle were sitting top of the league.
Seconds later and Matt Ritchie popped a perfect through ball over the top of the Barnsley defence and Dwight Gayle’s pace did the rest, the Newcastle striker getting to the ball first and expertly lifting it over the keeper and into the back of the net.
Barnsley desperately tried to get some kind of entry into the game but as they pushed men forward belatedly, it was Newcastle who could and should have punished them further.
No matter, final whistles at both Oakwell and Craven cottage produced this beautiful image…
The scores at the top that mattered on Tuesday night:
Barnsley 0 Newcastle 2
Birmingham 4 Rotherham 2
Brighton 1 Wolves 0
Fulham 2 Norwich 2
QPR 1 Bristol City 0
Wednesday night sees another couple of fixtures with Huddersfield potentially joining us on 28 points, though Newcastle will be top due to the far higher goal difference, whilst Sheffield Wednesday are looking on a bit of a charge up the table as well and will go into the top six if avoiding defeat at Cardiff.
Wednesday night matches:
Cardiff v Sheffield Wednesday
Preston v Huddersfield
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Barnsley 0 Newcastle 2
Newcastle: Gayle 49, 68
Possession was Barnsley 51 % Newcastle 49%
Total shots were Barnsley 8 Newcastle 17
Shots on target were Barnsley 2 Newcastle 6
Corners were Barnsley 0 Newcastle 4
Newcastle starting 11:
Darlow, Anita, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 83), Gouffran, Hanley, Shelvey, Diame (Colback 90+2), Gayle
Sels, Lazaar, Perez, Yedlin, Mitrovic
Referee: Paul Tierney
Crowd: 18,597 (Newcastle 5,900)
(For the instant fan/writer reaction to last night’s win go HERE)
(Click HERE to see the fans’ player ratings and to add your own to our interactive system)