Newcastle 3 Nottingham Forest 1  –  Friday 30 December 7.45pm

We asked a number of our regular writers to give us a brief instant reaction after the final whistle:

Scott:

“Sending off changed the game. At times we were terrible but took our chances and got 3 points.

“Top of the league again, that’s all that matters.

“Can’t wait for trip to Blackburn away, bring it on.”

Paul Lyon:

“Started the game well enough, intensity was high and we got a deserved early goal.

“After that we seemed to sink to the level of our opposition, getting involved in games of head tennis and going to ground too easy to win the ball back.

“But I dunno, it certainly shows another way of winning a game and maybe we’ll need to play like that a few more times this season.

“It certainly helps having Dwight Gayle in our side, that first goal seemed to defy physics from where I was stood.

“Justice served.”

Nat Seaton:

“Shouldn’t whinge as we’re sitting top of the league but it wasn’t the performance to fill me with hope, without us getting in some reinforcements.

“Gayle continues to impress and he was the bright spark in a pretty poor match.”

Ben Cooper:

“Forest away no luck, rubbish ref on their side, no points.

“Forest home a bit of luck, rubbish ref on our side, 3 points.

“The sending off masked what was often a lazy performance, tho Diame looked better in a deeper role facing the goal and Ritchie looked better with Yedlin behind him.

“Often this season the solidity of Clark and Lascelles has meant our inconsistent attacking performances have not cost us points but the two centre-halves have been shaky in the last couple of games so we need to see better from some of the other players until they regain their composure.

“Three more points tho and only 39 more to go and we are up.”

Leazes Park Ender:

“A weather postponement due to fog down at Brighton, allied to a 3-1 win over that mob from Nottingham and we end 2016 a point clear at the top. Phew!

“I sensed a wobble but it has been averted.

“It was hard labour at times tonight but Gayle with his 18th and 19th of the campaign sealed the nerves after Mills saw red. Gayle’s second was a delicious finish from a seemingly impossible angle.

“The back story was one of putting one over Forest after that game of pure ref robbery at the City Ground. I’m just pleased Rafa was able to get us back on track after the Sheff Wed slip up.

“Someone suggested to me we need just 11 more wins to secure promotion. I prefer to take it game by game.

“All the best for 2017.”

Jamie Smith:

“Happy to start a potential run again, albeit aided by a couple of cancellations!

“I didn’t properly see the red card but I hope it gives Forest something to complain about after the disgrace at the city ground.

“Not convincing by any means but we enter 2017 and the transfer window back on top.”

George Stainsby:

“Another grind out.

“I guess it’s a sign of a (potentially) good and successful team that even when it’s not going that well, you can win.

“If not exactly bounce back, at least respond.”

Toon Bano:

“We are halfway through the season and Rafa must see that playing with a number 10 in home games doesn’t work.

“He has to at least try Mitro with Gayle.

“Attack teams!!!”

Jamie Swan

“A win is a win.

“Very weird and wobbly performance after starting like a one sided Rocky bout for first 10 mins, we just seemed to completely forget what the hell we were doing.

“Player suffering the most from Shelvey’s absence for me is Hayden, collective groans not helping him. We were doing the basics wrong and looked really low on confidence once the Forest goal went in.

“Terrible goal to let in. Referee was poor both ways and the sending off swung it back our way.  Got carried away thinking Gayle’s first was like Van Basten!

“Once third goes in it’s game over.

“Top of the league, school report reads for today – could do better.

“Happy New years Eve Eve.”

Here are the stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 3 Nottingham Forest 1

Goals – 

Newcastle United: Ritchie 4 Gayle 63, 80

Nottingham Forest: Dumitru 29 (Mills red card 60)

Possession was Forest 40% Newcastle 60%

Total shots were Forest 8 Newcastle 16

Shots on target were Forest 3 Newcastle 8

Corners were Forest 1 Newcastle 9

Newcastle starting 11:

Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden, Colback (Diame 67), Ritchie (Lazaar 83), Atsu, Perez, Gayle (Mitrovic 88)

Unused Subs:

Sels, Mbemba, Gouffran, Anita

Referee: Keith Stroud

Crowd: 52,228