On Friday, we asked Newcastle fans to vote on what had been the key moment of Newcastle’s Championship season.
The game that had most influenced the season overall.
We excluded the days when promotion (v Preston) and the title (v Barnsley) were secured, as these were really the culmination of what had gone before.
Instead we wanted the match that helped really set Rafa Benitez and his team on the path to eventual success.
The votes are now counted and we had an overwhelming result, surprisingly more clear cut than certainly I thought:
53% Newcastle 4 Norwich 3
25% Brighton 1 Newcastle 2
14% Huddersfield 1 Newcastle 3
3% Newcastle 2 Brighton 0
1% Leeds 0 Newcastle 2
1% Newcastle 2 Aston Villa 0
1% Newcastle 4 Reading 1
1% QPR 0 Newcastle 6
So only three live contenders and that early season win over Norwich clearly ahead of the two crucial away victories at Brighton and Huddersfield in late February/early March.
If Newcastle hadn’t came back in injury time in that Norwich match and scored the two very late goal, NUFC would not have been third in the table and only three points behind leaders Huddersfield.
Instead would have been Norwich top after 10 matches with 23 points, with Newcastle ninth and seven points off the top with 16 points.
Plus that Norwich match was the first of eight Championship wins in a row that set the basis for promotion, which at the same time totally deflated the Canaries who had looked serious contenders.
This is how we profiled the eight nominated matches on Friday:
Newcastle 4 Reading 1
After starting the season with two defeats, an up and down performance saw a 1-1 half-time scoreline end up as an eventual 4-1 win against the team who would eventually finish third in the table.
Newcastle 2 Brighton 0
Hughton’s team had like Newcastle not made an ideal start and so this victory at the time might not have got the headlines it maybe deserved. Goals from Lascelles and Shelvey settling it.
QPR 0 Newcastle 6
Rafa juggled his squad and Newcastle produced their biggest win of the season, showing that goals could come from all over the pitch.
Newcastle 4 Norwich 3
Despite playing well, Newcastle found themselves 3-1 down against a Norwich side who had started the season very well. Eventually winning 4-3 with two goals deep in injury time.
Leeds 0 Newcastle 2
A first league full house at Elland Road in years, an expectant crowd though seeing Newcastle completely dominate and a typical professional away display saw NUFC emerge two goal winners.
Newcastle 2 Aston Villa 0
Some indifferent form was swept away as a very good Newcastle performance swept away irritants Villa, a hilarious Lansbury own goal capping the night.
Brighton 1 Newcastle 2
The first of three tough away games in a row, a very soft penalty looked to have set up Brighton in this key game. Despite Newcastle dominating they couldn’t get a goal, until a Diame ‘special’ and then quality team goal winner saw United grab a late win.
Huddersfield 1 Newcastle 3
Four days after that Brighton win, it was a visit to a Huddersfield team posing a constant threat to the top two. Despite only 24% possession, Newcastle looked very comfortable at the back and scored three times as they counter-attacked with real threat.