Birmingham 0 Newcastle 0 – Saturday 18 March 2017 3pm

Up at the crack of dawn – who needs an alarm clock when you have a one year old?

After a few pick ups we were on the motorway by 8ish for a relatively straightforward journey to Birmingham.

From what I gather, there’s not too many places to go for a pint close to St. Andrew’s so we grabbed a few in a local Ibris. It wasn’t until we got into the ground did we really feel the pre-match atmosphere.

Before the game I was confident we’d get a result, even without Shelvey in the team.

This confidence was further boosted after a chat with a Birmingham fan who was pretty sure they’d lose.

The game itself was far from a classic with few clear cut chances for either side. We seemed to be happy to pass it around without posing any major threat.

I thought the team were solid enough but didn’t quite go far enough to win the game.

Our fans travelled in great numbers once again, excellent on the concourse – but that didn’t transfer to the stands and towards the pitch.

I mean, we’re top of the league but I don’t get the feeling we’re on the crest of a wave or hurtling towards promotion.

Results elsewhere mean we’ve gained another point towards promotion but it feels like we’re making hard work of it.

I’m still confident we’ll go up but the way we’re playing feels like we’re labouring towards the finish line.

That’s three times I’ve been to Birmingham and I’ve seen three draws: 0-0, 2-2, 0-0.

Bit of a break now and hopefully the lads can regain a bit of freshness in their legs before a couple of winnable home games.

Match Ratings:

Darlow 7 – Relatively untroubled, did what he had to well.

Anita 5 – Tried to get forward but lack quality, never looked comfortable in defence.

Hanley 7 – Decent return, looked like he’d never been out of the team, defended well.

Lascelles 6 – Still not at his commanding best but probably didn’t really need to be.

Dummett 7 – Steady performance got forward as often as possible.

Ritchie 7 – Tried to make things happen, scored a legitimate goal.

Diame 5 – Ineffective, could do more to be a presence in the middle of the pitch.

Colback 6 – Kept things moving in midfield.

Gouffran 6 – Best work was his defensive duties, would like him to be more direct when in decent attacking positions.

Perez 7 – A lot more effective than in some other games this season.

Murphy 7 – Led the line well and brought people into play.

Gayle 7 – Busy when he came on.

Atsu N/A – Not on long enough.

Shelvey N/A – Not on long enough.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Birmingham 0 Newcastle 0

Possession was Birmingham  35% Newcastle 65%

Total shots were  Birmingham 9 Newcastle 17

Shots on target were Birmingham 1 Newcastle 3

Corners were  Birmingham 3 Newcastle 5

Referee: Simon Hooper

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Hanley, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Colback, Gouffran (Atsu 82), Perez (Shelvey 78), Murphy (Gayle 63)

Unused Subs:

Elliot, Gamez, Mbemba, Mitrovic

Crowd: 19,796 (Newcastle 3,300)

(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to today’s game go HERE)

(To read what Rafa Benitez had to say post-match go HERE)

(To view the NUFC player ratings and add your own to our interactive system go HERE)

You can follow the author on Twitter @lyon1892

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

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  • Andy Mac

    “I mean, we’re top of the league but I don’t get the feeling we’re on the crest of a wave or hurtling towards promotion”

    “I was there and have attended games regularly for 30+ years despite living in the East Midlands for the last 20yrs. Agree the keeper was man of the match but I don’t quite see it as a positive. To me yet again we laboured against a bang average Birmingham. In the 30+ years I’ve never seen a a Newcastle team set up and play with such caution. I’m not going to slag the team off or say we are doomed but to me this is not the Newcastle I fell in love with in the SuperMac days”

    I didn’t write either of those comments but agree wholeheartedly.

    • Leicester Mag

      Well I wrote the second of the two and last night felt as flat as.. I know we are top but I struggle to get my head around the fact that a Newcastle team is set up in this manner. I wish, like some, I felt this was the only way out of this cess pit of a league. Is it so wrong to feel that we have the players to simply outplay the rest of the teams in the league if only we’d take the brakes off?

  • Mark Scott

    It’s an interesting one, we are in top spot, other clubs around us are dropping points as well, but we still aren’t happy. There seems to be a sense of disappointment that we aren’t romping the league. While it would be nice and give more optimism for next season if we went in on a massive high, we are still on track to do what needed to be done and people need to remember that before getting carried away with all the doom and gloom. This season was all about promotion, end of story. We may not be looking like a Premier League side at the moment, but maybe the eternal optimist in me hopes that is what the summer transfer business will sort out and Rafa will continue his squad renovations and maintain positive progress. As i’ve said before, I think people are ignoring exactly HOW bad we were when we went down this time…

    • Mal

      It’s not exactly doom and gloom with many of us but just the feeling that, with the squad we have compared with other teams, we should be much more positive in the way we play. We were fortunate that other results favoured us this weekend.