Newcastle United have taken a massive leap forward on the promotion trail and it isn’t just the fact that the final scoreline read Brighton 1 Newcastle 2.
There is something different about Newcastle in these past couple of weeks.
A key ingredient that Rafa Benitez has managed to add to his team and squad, regardless of which eleven players are picked.
Before we got to February, Newcastle United had fallen behind in nine matches this season, including Oxford in the FA Cup.
In eight of those nine games, Newcastle had lost. The only exception being that crazy Norwich match where the visitors imploded in injury time and 2-3 became 4-3 in a matter of seconds.
Fast forward to February though and in three of the last four Newcastle United matches, NUFC have gone behind but lost none of the three.
At Norwich they were trailing 2-1 and Lascelles equalised in the 81st minute for a point.
Home to Bristol City and after going behind 2-0 in the first-half, a fightback saw Newcastle score twice for a point.
Finally, trailing to Brighton thanks to Robert Madley’s penalty decision, goals in the 81st and 89th minute brought a very welcome victory.
As well as Tuesday night’s win, Newcastle were unlucky not to go on and win both the Bristol City and Norwich matches once squaring things, finishing the games much the better team.
Fair enough you can still see these as points dropped if you want but the reality is, that losing eight of the previous nine matches when falling behind, does show that this is a massive change in fortunes for the better.
Without these five points after going behind in February matches, Newcastle would be now six points behind Brighton and traveling to Huddersfield only three points above third and the West Yorkshire club having a game in hand.
I think this is maybe a combination of two things. The team exhibiting more resilience when falling behind and perhaps extra willingness by Rafa Benitez to have a real proper go in these recent games and take a few more risks.
Matches in 2016/17 season when Newcastle have gone behind:
5 August 2016 – Fulham 1 Newcastle 0
13 August 2016 – Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 2
17 September 2016 – Newcastle 0 Wolves 2
28 September 2016 – Newcastle 4 Norwich 3
26 November 2016 – Newcastle 0 Blackburn 1
2 December 2016 – Forest 2 Newcastle 1
26 December 2016 – Newcastle 0 Sheff Wed 1
2 January 2017 – Blackburn 1 Newcastle 0
28 January 2017 – Oxford 3 Newcastle 0 (FA Cup)
14 February 2017 – Norwich 2 Newcastle 2
25 February 2017 – Newcastle 2 Bristol City 2
28 February 2017 – Brighton 1 Newcastle 2
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