Newcastle 2 Aston Villa 0 – Monday 20 February 8pm

Darlow 7 – Had very little to do but made a key save at a key time. Something he has done all season.

Yedlin 6 – Again tried his best going forward – ineffectual on this given night but an A for effort.

Lascelles 6 – Looked shaky again. He is vulnerable when facing his own goal – but nonetheless a clean sheet.

Clark 8 – Absolutely nothing wrong. Mr Consistent and at the moment still my player of the season. Almost unbelievable that this is the same player who went down with Villa last year.

Dummett 8 – Hasn’t got enough credit at times this year and since January has provided more of an attacking outlet.

Colback 7 – Much better performance than previous weeks – while his footballing ability leaves a lot to be desired at times, you can’t fault his energy and effort. I would rather have a 110% not so good Jack Colback over a 50% Wijnaldum or Sissoko.

Shelvey 9 – The best player on the pitch by a million miles. When he is given space as he did in the second half then he can kill teams off at this level.

Gouffran 6 – Scored a goal but again his performance was poor – like Colback he does provide balance and energy down the left hand side but he didn’t offer enough tonight.

Diame 4 – Looked lost and isolated at times. He is hit and miss and tonight was miss.

Ritchie 5 – A quiet game by his standards, what he did try often didn’t work. Will need to raise his game again over the coming weeks in the big games (although it looked like sky gave him man of the match so what do I know? haha).

Gayle – N/A (Not on long enough)

Mitrovic 7 – A completely different player from Tuesday night at Norwich. Worked his socks off, pressed the Villa back line and looked like he had gained an extra yard of pace overnight…

Atsu – N/A (Not on long enough)

Regardless of ratings or how well each player played, you can’t fault this team for effort and commitment. Every single one of them continues to give 100% towards promotion and ultimately that’s all you can ask for.

Ironically, in my opinion, the game swung in Newcastle’s favour when Dwight Gayle was forced off with injury.

Villa began the game pressing high up the pitch, which meant that Shelvey was denied space to come and collect the ball. Therefore a link up to Gayle was hard to find, and when it was made by the two full backs, the ball simply didn’t stick.

When Mitro came on it allowed us to go more direct, which pushed the Villa back line further back, and thus gave Shelvey more room to dictate.

Another win, then another one needed against Bristol on Saturday to take into the Brighton game.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 Aston Villa 0

Newcastle: Gouffran 42, Lansbury OG 59

Possession was Villa  45% Newcastle 55%

Total shots were Villa 8 Newcastle 14

Shots on target were Villa 1 Newcastle 6

Corners were Villa 4 Newcastle 6

Referee: Peter Bankes

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback, Shelvey, Gouffran (Atsu 89), Diame, Gayle (Mitrovic 33)

Unused Subs:

Elliot, Hanley, Gamez, Perez, Lazaar

Crowd: 50,024 (Villa 1,707)

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