Absolute outrage how long it took this game to come around, following the hateful time vortex that is the international break.

Having annihilated Southampton last time out there was always the chance that momentum could be lost during the endless drag of the enforced break and we could not afford for this to happen at such a crucial point in proceedings. Win today and we could step on Huddersfield’s head en route to the comfort of mid-table, lose and we were right back in the clarts.

Fortunately, something has clicked at home of late, and United seemed to be firmly in gear from the off again. I’m not going to get tired of writing that Diame and Shelvey owned the midfield again, but as with the previous two home games it felt like the whole team was on their game as the visitors were pinned back in their own half, while chance after chance was carved out but frustratingly went begging.

There’s probably two views as to whether Dwight Gayle was unlucky or downright wasteful today – but no one can say he wasn’t getting into the positions. He was given enough time to think about his shot when Yedlin’s centre reached him, but blasted over, then tried his luck with a cheeky backheel when Perez picked him out among a crowd of Terrier’s defenders. The most glaring chance though, came following one of Shelvey’s magnificent long passes, as a quickly taken free kick caught the Huddersfield defence sleeping and Gayle was sharp enough to find himself one v one with the keeper. From my seat, his decision to lob the goalie looked like a quality finish all day, but our number nine had miscued horribly and sent his effort wide.

Gayle was also on the fringes of our other two closest chances, with his early attempt at an overhead kick breaking nicely for Shelvey to smash an edge of the box effort just wide. Then when Gayle played Ritchie in, his desire to get to the second ball perhaps caused Ritchie to rush his shot, giving Lossl the chance to make an excellent block.

Some utterly mad things have been uttered by Huddersfield fans since this game, but anyone who saw the first half as anything other than total Newcastle dominance, was drinking mad pops and mental brew. From the home perspective, everyone’s muscles tightened a bit at the thought of missed chances coming back to haunt us.

The second half involved a bit more toil, as the visitors took advantage of the downhill slope to visit our half. Jorgensen’s power header from a corner created a goalmouth scramble that often creates the kind of stupid daft pie of a goal the likes of which is in Newcastle DNA to concede but Dubravka gathered calmly. Good on him for staying alert because up until this point United could have played a balloon tied to a stick in goal for all the bother Huddersfield had created.

It was getting a bit scratchy as the clock wore on to the point of Rafa’s substitutions, including a belated debut for Slimani for Gayle, who apparently picked up his banjo and headed straight for the Town Moor to set about some cow’s backsides, and Hayden for the dominant Diame, worryingly sporting a slight limp. Atsu also replaced Ritchie, suggesting that maybe that Scotland injury wasn’t just a massive lie after all.

I was one of I’m sure many in the ground who thought the oft-tiring Kenedy and less effective Perez would be likelier targets for the hook at this stage, but subsequent events were to prove why Rafa is Newcastle manager, and me and those other blokes thinking such things don’t manage anyone of particular note.

Slimani gave a glimpse of what we’ve maybe been missing as he flashed onto a Shelvey super-pass but couldn’t get a shot off. Having hoped he’d score an utter screamer with his very first touch I have to confess to being a bit gutted as we sloped into the final ten minutes fearing a Bournemouth style sucker punch.

Huddersfield got a bit cocky and tried crossing the halfway line again but Lejeune’s clearing header found Perez on the counter attack. He released Atsu down the wing and the presence of Slimani gave him an obvious target in the middle. The Algerian couldn’t connect but created enough havoc to draw Lossl out to slap the ball away to Kenedy, who showed magnificent composure in smoothly squaring it for the onrushing Perez to slide in and score what could prove to be a priceless winner.

There was a heart in mouth moment late on as Malone escapes Atsu’s half-arsed marking to run on to a back post cross, but Dubravka was big and brace again, not even letting the subsequent head on collision fase him too much. The relief at the final whistle perhaps betrayed everyone’s rising confidence that reaching 35 points was either enough, or very nearly enough, to stay up and hope for better things come the summer.

This game was not pretty at times, as Huddersfield seemed set to come for a point and their niggly approach and tendency for time wasting gave an otherwise benign match a sense of needle at times. I think I counted about a hundred bookings for the visitors as a full blooded Championship match was played out in Premier League shirts.

Given the scarcity of Northern clubs in the top flight (and none looking likely to come up) I would definitely prefer it if Huddersfield were to stick around for a bit. I do fear for them though, as they seem to have the look of a newly promoted team unravelling at the exact wrong time and plummeting into the bother while more experienced campaigners move the other way (Crystal Palace anyone?), a story seen on almost an annual basis in this division.

A quick word on Perez also, who I have long considered a bit of a weak link in a team crying out for a quality number ten. Today was one of his better performances and not the first time he’s popped up with a valuable goal. With Slimani taking another 15 day sabbatical while we face his parent club, hopefully Gayle can find the finish to go with the positions and the evident injury does nothing to slow the renaissance of Mo Diame as Rafa’s overachieving side moves closer to securing their survival.

I think we all feel a bit better about our prospects after another positive day.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0

Goals:

Newcastle: Perez 80

Possession was Huddersfield 37% Newcastle 63%

Total shots were  Huddersfield 4 Newcastle 18

Shots on target were Huddersfield 0 Newcastle 3

Corners were  Huddersfield 3 Newcastle 3

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 67), Shelvey, Diame (Hayden 79), Shelvey, Kenedy, Gayle (Slimani 75)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Clark, Murphy

Crowd: 52,261 (3,000 Huddersfield)

(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0 go HERE)

(Despite not one effort on target David Wagner says Huddersfield didn’t deserve to lose! Read HERE)

(Rafa Benitez reaction to the win HERE)

(Paul Merson gets very animated after watching Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0 – Read it HERE)

(Alan Shearer loving what he saw as Newcastle beat Huddersfield – Read it HERE)

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

To feature like Jamie Smith submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here


  • Paul Patterson

    Rafa’s management has got us 7 points clear of relegation (technically eight with goal difference) with seven games to go, on a similar or tighter net spend to those around/below us. Everton have spent £160m this summer (not net) and they are only five points/three places above us (we have a game in hand) and have changed their manager and spent in January.
    Rafa is doing a cracking job.

    • Jezza

      Considering what he has managed since taking a Championship squad into the Premiership with no money to spend, he should be manager of the year but of course that award will go to Guardiola who was able to spend more far money on one full back alone than Rafa had for the entire squad.

      • Jamie Smith

        Guardiola is basically playing Football Manager in cheat mode in the real world with real money.

        • Ram Kishore

          City play very good football though despite spending huge

        • Leazes.

          I did that once…I took over Manure and sold all of their best players to United and they still win.

      • Wor Lass

        Fair comment but there have been plenty of managers who have spent big and achieved nothing over the years. City play magnificent football at times and I really like Guardiola`s interpretation of how the game should be played. The annoying thing about Rafa`s fantastic achievement is that the fat bar steward will be sayin, “I told you you didn`t need any more money.”.

      • GlasgowMag

        Give it time tomorrow if Mitro scores the Rafa haters will be back using him as a smoke screen again to have a dig lol!!!ps my money’s on Pardew oops sorry sacked again😂😂😂😂

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        No money to spend and a ten million player not even in the squad and a ten million pound player on the bench a five million pound full back not playing you talk utter rubbish. The sad thing is the people you have brain washed believe you.

        • molend

          Sorry I’ve been very slow to work you out. You’re John Cleese, aren’t you. Come on, admit it. ‘No money to spend and a ten million pound player not even in the squad’. ‘This player is no more. He has ceased to be. He’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff!’

          • Paul Patterson

            Good evening, Fawlty Towers . .

          • Kneebotherm8

            You’d get more sense out of a dead parrot,mate.

          • Rich Lawson

            Smacks more of ”The Cheese Shop”,Rafa’ goes in to buy and quotes one name after another only to be told it is no longer available for one dafter reason after another.Only difference he sadly does not get to shoot the owner !!

        • TheFatController

          it was a moment of shock and awe to see a £27m player on the bench.

          The Leicester player. Puts Ashley’s spending into more context than your jibber jabber nonsense ever will…

  • Wor Monga

    Nice account of the game…and it’s just a pity quite a few on here didn’t have the same sentiments regarding their judgement of our players as you…

    …Rafa has worked players through some bad times this season…having to use them in various roles to cover absences and struggles at the higher level, but he persisted when others would have felt the pressures of a club this big…

    …it’s now paying off, but somebody who has built and coached clubs at the highest levels like he has knows what’s needed and all proper players will buy into that…so long may it continue!!!

  • Mrkgw

    A very good and honest, account of the game. I’m not sure about wanting Huddersfield to stay in the Premiership though as their supporters always seem to be bitter towards us. They were the same iro comments last year.

    • Jezza

      Huddersfield fans have been bitter towards us ever since we outnumbered them by a ratio of 3 to 1 at their own ground back in 84.

      • Mrkgw

        Long may that continue Jezza. I see that their Manager drew similarities in terms of teams which can only be viewed as scandalous, that Ashley has allowed the club to fall to such depths.

      • Ba ba.

        Exactly

      • FairsCup69

        That was some day out!

  • Dillon Tovak

    Where are all those fans that wanted Rafa sacked not long ago?

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      In Sunderland
      😂😂😂😂

      • Dillon Tovak

        Hahaha

    • Leazes.

      Where are those who were voting ‘Shelvey out’ for Ryder or Jensen’s polls?

    • Jezza

      They are both at home in Manchester.

      • Fatwasp

        Great article, also love Jezzas comments. Isn’t it nice to support the lads and celebrate our success. Sick to death of the negativity of late… Howay the lads. Dig in and ignore the bile… don’t want to hear the smart arses that have never kicked a ball.

  • kingfisher

    I see normal service has been resumed for the great uwashed this afternoon.Hopefully they will indeed get out of the Championship at the first attempt.Didn’t they say that it was an easy league to get out of when we were relegated? Well I must say they are proving it’s very easy to get out of .😁👍

    • East Durham Mag

      I listened to the after match phone in on Radio Newcastle for a laugh and judging by the calls on it they will be forming a massive queue on the Wearmouth Bridge to jump off.

      • gallowgate26

        They’ve got a new bridge (called the northern spire or new wear crossing) and this is true, not made up…they went to spray paint it and loads of cars in a car park below got covered in white paint. Like something out of the chuckle brothers!

      • Kneebotherm8

        They’re welcome to use the Tyne bridge as an overflow…..

        • Paul Patterson

          Hey, hey, hey. Tyneside Council have to clean that muck out . .

          • Rich Lawson

            No worries,s##t floats,straight out to sea,their best chance of being in Europe ?

  • Peaky

    Just watched MOTD on catch up…..Palace v Liverpool…..what a little shithouse Cabaye is holding the imaginary card up to the referee at every available opportunity…..disgraceful.

    • paul mclaughlan

      Bunch of bastards those shithouses. 😂

    • molend

      Aye, give me Steve Watson, a brick netty, any day

    • TheFatController

      He did have all the composure of a 5 year old girl complaining her older brother had nicked the flake out of her 99, I must agree ….

      • Peaky

        Spot on analogy…..

    • Kneebotherm8

      Any player holding up an imaginary card should be booked for unsportsmanlike/ungentlemanly conduct………..the ref makes the decisions…………not little prks like him…

    • Paul Patterson

      Imagine the imaginary card thing in the 1970’s? The player doing so would end up over the advertising hoardings and be ‘reminded’ of his sportsmanship . .

      • Peaky

        Aye you’re right there mind….

  • gallowgate26

    I thought if we beat ‘Udders, that was us past relegation worries (and them squarely in the mire). Especially since Hudds last four game run in, are against top half teams. Ordinarily 35 points is not safe, but; a) we have some teams below us who are in freefall/ all of them would need to get two or three wins from 6/7 games to overtake us, highly unlikely and about as likely as Sunderland winning four games out of six AND staying up. b) we are also talking about Newcastle losing most of the next seven games for that to happen. Actually we are hitting the best form of the season, with three home wins in-a-row and the loan players all starting to perform/ become match fit.

  • FairsCup69

    We are now in danger of not winning the bottom half of the premier league. Not that I’m complaining…..