If/when Newcastle United get promoted, there is little doubt for Karl Darlow that two games only four days apart, were pivotal to the automatic promotion race.
Once Brighton and the EFL refused to consider another date for the rearranged Brighton match, it meant Rafa Benitez and his team were faced with away games on a Tuesday and Saturday, against their two closest rivals, followed on the next Tuesday with a trip to Reading who have been top six pretty much all season.
Even the most optimistic of Newcastle fans would have taken five or six points but to get seven was a cracking effort, especially with the two wins being against the right teams, a draw at Reading being enough to extinguish any faint hopes they still had of top two.
Karl Darlow muses that if Newcastle had lost to both Brighton and Huddersfield, we’d be all thinking ‘We could have to break into the top two again’.
The top of the table shows at the minute:
78 Newcastle United
Instead it could have been:
72 Newcastle United
Incredible to think that a 46 game nine month season, could all have rested on those two games only four days apart.
If the games had been lost, Newcastle’s destiny would have been out of their own hands, with Huddersfield guaranteed to finish above Rafa’s team if they got seven wins and two draws in their final nine games, even eight wins out of eight wouldn’t have been enough for NUFC. Whilst Brighton’s lead would surely have carried them through.
It is ironic that it was far better drawing at Birmingham and losing to Fulham, rather than to the likes of Brighton and Huddersfield.
Newcastle now face the clubs who are 23rd and 21st in the table within four days of each other at St James Park.
As we all know, anything can happen in this division, but with a two week international break to clear heads, there is really no excuse from the players for them not to go out now and finish the job.
Karl Darlow speaking to the Chronicle:
“Everyone wants to win the league, we would take second if it came down to it I suppose, but we know the goal is to be promoted, and everybody wants to win the league.
“Those three (away at Brighton, Huddersfield & Reading) were big results, especially the first two.
“Real six pointers and again it shows the mentality and quality that we have got throughout the team, massive results and they turned it into a positive situation for us.
“If the results had gone the other way we’d be sat here thinking now…‘We could have to break into the top two again’.
“We can go away from home against top teams and beat them, we just need to make sure we continue to do that.
You just get on with it (when players are out injured), we have quality throughout the team (squad).
“Whoever comes in will do just as good a job and we have to keep faith in whoever comes in and whoever plays.
“The manager has that (confidence) too, as you can see from his rotation throughout the season.”