Saturday 22 December 3pm
Newcastle United 1 (Shola 81)
Queens Park Rangers 0
Watch Match Highlights Here
A crowd of over fifty thousand who stayed with the team throughout, might just have saved our season.
Amazingly, today’s crowd was more than when we played Manchester City last week, particularly surprising considering that QPR brought only 922 hardy souls.
Anybody who’d looked at the weather forecast, or just glanced out of the window, would have seen little to convince them that they should turn up and pay on the door.
Just maybe it will be one of those moments when you can say I was there, when Newcastle got a vital win that set them on the path to better things.
What is clear is that Shola’s winner has almost certainly saved us from the possibility of seeing the new year in as a bottom three team and all the statistics associated with teams who have gone into the new year in the relegation zone and where they end up.
The mackems winning at Southampton might turn out to be not the worst result in the end but if that had been combined with less than three points for Newcastle, then the combination could potentially have been fatal in terms of morale.
The effort was once more there and the approach play ok but the final ball into the box is yet again abysmal. Jonas cannot cross the ball and he is seemingly not alone, it was little surprise then that our most creative player, Davide Santon was behind the winner.
His mazy run from left back carried him some sixty yards diagonally across the pitch and he fed Perch, who had a a simple ball on to Shola on his right, who stepped inside and coolly curled it left-footed past Green. Relief.
Rangers were abysmal and the least adventurous visiting team we’ve seen, seemingly wasting time from the first minute.
Maybe we should be grateful because their lack of enterprise meant they created not one decent chance and gave United only their third clean sheet of the season. As we know, if we had gone behind then we aren’t going to win.
The first half saw corners and free-kicks created but all wasted, Demba Ba has scored the odd stunner from deadball situations but was high, wide and handsome today. In open play he cut a lonely figure as United basically played a 4-5-1 to match the visitors, Jonas and Cisse deep on the flanks.
As the match wore on, the grim faces matched the weather and with creative options looking once again very limited on the bench it looked as though we were relying on what we saw in front of us.
Cisse had done ok in his less than best right midfield role and his departure wasn’t welcomed as Alan Pardew shuffled his thin pack. Shola was welcomed though onto the pitch, as Obertan also replaced Gutierrez.
United then straight away went to two up top and Cisse quite rightly will be wondering why they couldn’t have done that when he was on the pitch. The 4-4-2 though saw Obertan end up on the left and Anita on the right, with seemingly little initial improvement in our play.
There was though a bit of an old fashioned lift from the crowd with just over ten minutes left and maybe that lift helped as Santon surged across the pitch and helped create our moment of the match.
Marveaux had also joined the fray, in place of the yellow carded Tiote who now misses Old Trafford.
The goal led to a final charge from the visitors but that only led to at last some room for Newcastle to play in, Obertan looking decent on his return and Marveaux seeing his shot well saved by Green.
It might not be quite ‘United Are Back’ but it could be United back from the dead and a bit of confidence to use this result to start looking up over the next half a dozen league matches. Extra quality in the transfer window is an essential, today proved that sheer effort alone can only give us so much on the pitch.
Newcastle United: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Perch, Tiote (Marveaux 77), Anita, Cisse (Shola 61), Ba, Gutierrez (Obertan 61)
Unused Subs: Harper, Ferguson, Bigirimana, Sammy Ameobi
Queens Park Rangers: Green, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Hill, Da Silva, Granero (Wright-Phillips 56), Mbia, Faurlin (Derry 79), Mackie, Cisse (Hoilett 64), Taarabt
Ref: Kevin Friend
Crowd: 50,180 (922 Away fans)
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