Filtering the game through a sieve of righteousness
Newcastle 2 Cardiff 1 – Saturday 5 November 2016 3pm
More excitement then, as 50,000+ flocked in to St James Park hoping to see our winning run (all competitions) extend to an impressive 8 games.
Speaking of impressive, the fully unleashed Gallowgate flags display, with the huge “legends” flags filling the stand pre-match, in addition to the extensive collection of smaller black and white efforts, created a magnificent spectacle.
It may be that harnessing the atmosphere from the kick-off has a bit of a positive effect (who’d have thought it?!!) as United again wasted no time taking the lead.
It wasn’t quite as rapid as Perez’ 59 seconds v Ipswich but every bit as welcome as Mitrovic dribbled strongly into the box, gaining defender’s attention before releasing Atsu to his right to fire the ball back across goal and in. Atsu’s first goal at St James Park and a promising start for Mitro, deservedly retaining his place after a week of terribly mistreating Preston, despite Dwight Gayle being fit enough to take his place on the bench.
The remainder of the half was your typical, professional polished showing from Rafa’s Newcastle, with huge amounts of possession and a no-nonsense defensive approach, with the outstanding Ciaran Clark seemingly snuffing out every spot of possession Cardiff had, let alone any with attacking intent.
Our best opportunity to extend the lead came when Perez released the overlapping Dummett, whose shot was either straight at the goalie, well saved or a bit of both. Also, it’s a picky bloody thing to say, but a string of corners were poorly taken in the build up to half-time, a bit of a let off for the visitors when we could have been making consistent pressure count.
It mattered not though, as we decided to use the 45th minute to our advantage in a very welcome change in strategy. Seeing DeAndre Yedlin run is brilliant, if someone was to invent a little wind-up toy of him that scampers rapidly over desk tops then I would be buying, winding and scampering. It’s like there’s a little bit of wind behind him saying “whoosh” and the dust from this wind was in the eyes of the Cardiff defence as he pelted forward and released Gouffran, who added another to his season’s collection of masterful finishes in a pretty similar style to Atsu’s opener.
Half-time and that was surely it. Championship-storming Newcastle need not fear the erosion of a two goal advantage as their wobbly Premier League forerunners would always be wise to do. No, this one was home and hosed.
Bugger me if it didn’t turn out to be that easy though, as the Bluebirds had the best chances of a pedestrian second half. Mitro seemed to be dropping deep to try and get hold of the ball, whereas Gayle will hold his position further forward, thus pinning the opponent further back.
He (Mitrovic) did get one golden opportunity to end the game, but fired wide from 6 yards, only moments after similar profligacy from Atsu. This allowed Cardiff into the game a bit more and they grew in belief to the point that they had the temerity to go and score a goal.
Neil Warnock’s team practise that revolting tactic of yarking the ball into the penalty area from some mutant’s appallingly long throw, and this Neolithic yobbery brought about a goalmouth scramble, which they probably also love. Chamakh used his hand to paff the ball to Whittingham, who smashed a neat strike in through the crowd to set up a tense finale.
Despite one of those endings where the visitors seemed to constantly have the ball, there was no real threat to United claiming an unspectacular 3 points. Warnock bleated post-match about some penalty claim, and TV replays showed Mitrovic getting involved in a right old tussle with one of their blokes that the officials gave our way. It looked ill advised from the Serb, and gave the Cardiff boss something to go on about I suppose.
The thing is though Neil, you’re not allowed to handball the ball with your hand either, so if we’re filtering the whole game through a sieve of righteousness you’ll still have lost 2-1. And anyway, this whole “should have had a penalty” blether is getting a bit boring round these parts. If you’d been paying attention you’d know that the only team in the league allowed to collate their only ever points via the medium of questionable penalties and undeserved luck is Sunderland. Now off you go.
So, not so much champagne Championship today, more the bricks and mortar of a promotion push. With other results falling nicely we now have an 8 point cushion to third ahead of a tricky trip to Leeds (after another international bore of course).
Brighton are on our heels as the new most prominent contender, but the wins, spectacular or otherwise, keep coming and with them the belief that we can bounce straight back from this division.
In many ways though, I would miss it…….
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Cardiff 1
Newcastle: Atsu 3, Gouffran 45
Cardiff: Whittingham 77
Possession was Cardiff 33% Newcastle 67%
Total shots were Cardiff 10 Newcastle 18
Shots on target were Cardiff 2 Newcastle 4
Corners were Cardiff 4 Newcastle 10
Newcastle starting 11:
Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Atsu (Diame 89), Gouffran (Anita 72), Hayden, Shelvey, Perez, Mitrovic
Sels, Colback, Hanley, Gayle, Lazaar,
Referee: Tony Harrington
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 2 Cardiff 1 go here)
(Neil Warnock blames match officials for defeat, read what he had to say here)
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