What a night! A top performance filled with zest, heart, enthusiasm, togetherness and belief.
And that was just the crowd…
An attendance that most top division teams could only dream of at a regular domestic league game, helped by the sensible pricing structure (and half term kiddie winkles), turned out and put in a committed and atmospheric display that warmed many a heart throughout an incredible 90 minutes of football.
Let’s put aside the opposition, who we have to face again in this weekend (and who were quite poor) and instead focus on the positives of the black and whites that took to the field.
Every player contributed to the night’s entertainment, with the two stand out displays coming from the much maligned Momo Diame and Mitro (who was on fire all night), playing the role of conductor to the St James Park orchestra.
On the subject of Mitrovic, didn’t his solo goal remind you of someone? I know he is a fan of Alan Shearer and would like to emulate his record at Newcastle – but give him a Beatles-style moptop and I’d swear I was watching Malcolm ‘SuperMac’ Macdonald as he dinked the ball past defender after defender, bamboozled the goalkeeper and finished with aplomb (watch all the goals HERE). Vintage stuff.
In all fairness, Mitrovic could have matched the five that SuperMac and Alan Shearer notched against Cyprus and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, he was that good on the night, but he wasn’t alone.
Matt Ritchie was a livewire down the right flank, the two full-backs, Yedlin and Dummett, were given licence to bomb on and support the attack, but once again JonJo Shelvey pulled every string and he was probably not going to be used – rested for the league game down at Preston. Until Alan Browne’s nasty challenge put Jack Colback out of the game and into the RVI, reduced his own manager’s selection options on Saturday.
Once again though, I fall back on the crowd. It was simply a pleasure to be sat in the Gallowgate End west corner, be it belting out ‘Rafael Benitez’ for the umpteenth time, ‘If you love the Toon, stand up’, or ‘Mitro’s on fire’ as the man of the moment left the field Having left the opposition defence well and truly terrified.
The supporters that turn up at St James Park can’t and won’t be fooled, we know duck eggs when we see them, be it on the pitch or in the dugout.
However, put on a show, put in a shift and appreciate who you’re playing for? We’ll back anyone.