There often seems to be a team occupying a spot in the Premier League that seems to be defying the odds just by being there. After several years of Wigan’s unlikely involvement I’d say Bournemouth fit that bill. Having never previously visited the top flight in their history, the Cherries now feel settled in there, a solid, well-run club making the most of their resources in spite of a relatively meagre support base. The polar opposite of Newcastle, you might say.
Judging from pre-match comments, the visiting fans had settled swiftly into that tag, assigning themselves the tag of higher-table overlords in a similar fashion to Watford’s cocky approach a week ago.
This was to be a bit different to the swatting of the Hornets though, as that involved luck being ridden and an ugly win being ground out. That game was either going to be a catalyst for a turnaround, and things were going to be looking up as the more upbeat, insightful, handsome Newcastle fans were inclined to think (me), or it would be a fortunate aberration on the inevitable slide to oblivion, as the more world-weary, downcast, slightly constipated United fan was wont to gloomily predict (my mate Hutch, or the editor of The Mag).
Needless to say, I had the last larf.
This was fizz bang from the off here, and I have to say I loved watching United that first half. Ki picked up from his game changing intervention last week, steadily driving the play forward by bringing Kenedy and Ritchie into the game as much as possible. The latter was so keen to impress against his former club he must have ran about a hundred thousand miles, and didn’t even have the energy to swear aggressively when substituted (who says he’s not Scottish?).
Schar likewise put in a performance to match his previous showing from the bench alongside Fernandez, who we all surely love now and never want to leave us ever. The real difference though, the key factor in this team looking better than any that had gone before this year, was that today was the day that the man up front finally properly arrived.
It took Rondon seven minutes to notch his first League goal for Newcastle. Diame played a smart little dink over the defence for Yedlin to go tearing after, shouting “meep meep” while magnificently toasting Smith before drilling it across to Rondon. The number nine’s shot was parried by Begovic but a static defence allowed him to seize on the rebound and lash it home. A lovely early goal to set us on our way, or plenty of time to blow the lead, depending on your outlook.
Moments later, the pessimists were almost proved right as Brooks committed a hideous swan dive when under the firm but fair defensive attentions of heroic man mountain Federico Fernandez. This outrageous bit of gamesmanship by the scrawny Welsh cheat saw him deservedly booed for the rest of the game, although he was a pain in the backside throughout to give him credit.
Lengthy injury delays are becoming a bit standard at SJP these days, and there was no doubting that something serious was up as Adam Smith crumpled horribly while innocuously sidling up to take a defensive free kick. Hopefully, as with Glenn Murray the other week it looked worse than it was, although this seemed very ligamenty if you ask me.
United had undergone a bit of momentum loss by this point, with a lot of clumpy fouls allowing Bournemouth to execute some dangerous looking set-pieces, with Dubravka needing to be on point to palm away Fraser’s inswinging shot. Perhaps Smith’s injury took the onus from the visitors though, as United were about to regroup emphatically.
It’s not often you get these moments nowadays. I’ve watched Newcastle’s second goal several times now and it still gives me that little lift that used to be such a common thing around these parts before darkness cast its red and blue shadow over the ground.
Ping! Ki hit a sumptuous cross field ball from the right side to Kenedy in space on the left.
Shazam! Kenedy controlled the pass all Brazilian-like before sending over a marvellous, inviting, arcing cross and KER-BAST…-BLAM!!!
Rondon rose majestically and nutted the ball viciously into the top corner.
It was a thing of complete beauty. This could have been Ginola crossing for Ferdinand, or Robert picking out Shearer. It was a rare glimpse of a blast from the not too distant past when we weren’t regarded as lower-end guttersnipes by Bournemouth, when almost every visit to this ground was a happy one. God I loved this goal.
This could have been buried before half time. Perez sent Kenedy clean through with a fine ball but Begovic did very well to come out and block. Then Perez himself was through one on one with the keeper but drilled it narrowly wide from a tight angle.
In between these efforts, things had gotten less enjoyable as Bournemouth had indeed realised the pessimist’s fears that Smith’s injury would cost us, not them. With the 8 minutes of injury time almost up, Dubravka produced a brilliant point blank save from Cook’s header as yet another free kick was sent over. Unfortunately, from the resultant corner Lerma’s sneaky header crept inside the post to ensure the half ended on a bit of a sour note.
The second half was less eventful, but it’s been a good while since I’ve had anxiety like this. Rondon went close to his hat-trick when steering a header wide from Ritchie’s cross, but continued to put in a man of the match show, holding the ball up brilliantly and working his socks off, joining build up of attacks and defending from the front. Not hard to see why Rafa pursued this signing so hard and here’s hoping he can stay fit. Ultimately this is the one quality player we have for this oh so vital position, and if he can stay fit and performing like this, we’ll be more than fine.
Bournemouth really threatened to spoil it all as we scrutinised the tiny, occasional clock in the corner of the big screen. Jordan Ibe belted well over when one on one. Dan Gosling tried to ruin things in identical fashion to the reverse fixture earlier this year, but the ex-Mag was rightly flagged offside when he bundled past Dubravka. Bournemouth brought Jermaine Defoe on and everyone was certain he’d score (don’t think he touched it). Four minutes injury time, FFS.
Rondon had one last chance at the hat-trick but Begovic capped a solid performance by sticking out a leg to deflect his effort away. The whistle finally went at about quarter past six and we somehow find ourselves in fourteenth place after some results that previously weren’t looking too friendly ended up going our way. Nothing to fear in the coming weeks and maybe, just maybe, we can start looking up.
PS – Ed, you can come out from behind the sofa now.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Bournemouth 1
Newcastle : Rondon 7, 40
Bournemouth: Lerma 45+6
Possession was Bournemouth 61% Newcastle 39%
Total shots were Bournemouth 14 Newcastle 18
Shots on target were Bournemouth 4 Newcastle 6
Corners were Bournemouth 10 Newcastle 7
Referee: Lee Probert
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie (Hayden 74), Diame (Atsu 80), Ki , Kenedy (Clark 78), Rondon, Perez
Darlow, Joselu, Manquillo, Longstaff
Crowd: 49,266 (Bournemouth approx 600)
(Alan Shearer Match of The Day comments HERE)
(Salomon Rondon rates it ‘The Perfect Saturday’ – Read HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to beating Bournemouth HERE)
(Paul Merson covered Newcastle 2 Bournemouth 1 for Sky Sports – Had plenty to say afterwards HERE)
(Match ratings of all NUFC players HERE)
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf