Aaannnd relax.

Wherever you stand on the current Newcastle fan spectrum, from long-term stay away to consistently attending Boycott-denier, surely we’ve all got one thing in common: Games like the ones we’ve experienced at SJP so far this season can ruin your weekend.

No matter how hard you try to isolate and ignore the match, it still sits like a gargoyle on the corner of your mood, adding an edge of darkness to otherwise happy times, or throwing fuel on the fire when you’re having a bad one.

Today’s result was long overdue as a spot of therapy. It may be significant or ultimately inconsequential, but I had a nicer time during my days off work for what happened here. Maybe the lack of expectation made it even more uplifting.

God knows how low the Watford fans must be feeling, by contrast, as the comments collected on here evidenced their expectation of turning up and smashing the little guy. Watford have made a fine start, but get cocky in the Premier League at your peril. A team that have had a three season stay in the PL so far and who finished four places below us last season, seemed to be approaching the match as though it was a cup tie against a side two divisions lower, expecting three and four goal wins and dismissing our side as relegation fodder.

To be fair, you had to fear a similar thing, as their more impressive, more invested in side started the game looking like adding to their five game winning streak over us. Fortunately, it seemed the over sure approach had filtered through to the players.

United had a decent go early on, but the lack of a killer ball was excruciating, especially with the long-awaited likely pairing of Muto and Rondon up front. Watford, by contrast, were quick on the break and looked like threatening every time they crossed the halfway line. Deulofeu lazily firing hopelessly wide when a 2 v 1 threatened to carve the home defence open, summed up their approach, he seemed to be thinking “it’s bound to come, so I can afford a few potshots.”

A terrifying goalmouth scramble caused by Dummett’s unnecessary corner concession looked like the opening to let in a similar daft scruffy goal that Brighton were rude enough to celebrate last time out, but Mariappa was decent enough to miss horribly from five yards. Towards the end of the half, Watford finally worked out where the target was through the busy Success, but Dubravka was equal to his drive.

We made it unscathed to half time. Sort of. With one minute’s injury time having gone up, Muto was apparently struggling to the extent he couldn’t even negotiate that period to have a half time assessment. Off he came and on trotted Perez (with claims from some that he was booed on, though I never heard them). Then Lascelles failed to emerge for the second half, replaced by Schar, with Shelvey taking the armband. Unfortunately, he only wore it for five minutes before succumbing himself to some niggle, Ki becoming our final substitute after 50 minutes. So, all options gone early and three vital players off in what was surely a horror show waiting to unfold.

Surprisingly, this perceived misfortune would become salvation. Schar’s drive across goal from his first corner just needed the right touch, but set the tone for a fine display from him, and Perez was to have a decisive contribution. The game changer though, was the arrival of Ki, who was magnificent in controlling the pace in midfield. The South Korean’s more measured, patient build up approach allowed the team to get forward en masse, whereas Shelvey’s quick balls forward can often leave them short-handed up front. Ki’s introduction saw both Kenedy and Ritchie get right into the game, and the second half would belong to United from here (after Watford had smacked the bar in the opening moments of the half mind).

The crucial moment arrived in the 63rd as Ki ran strongly in from the flank before looking for a one-two with Kenedy, only to be bundled over on the corner of the box before he could take the return pass. He then got up to deliver a powerful free kick that was beautifully measured, both looking on target and ripe to attack. Perez found the space to redirect it with a front post glancing header and Foster had no chance. Pandemonium as we actually led for the first time at home this season.

Perez stuck his fingers in his lugs as seemingly a gesture to the boo boys and it’s one that should stick. Yes, he’s often below par and off the pace, this season especially, but grieving your own players onto the pitch (if it happened) is counter productive bad crack of moronic proportions. No one do that again please.

Moments later Rondon, spurred on no doubt by the nervous energy that he was going to have to do 90 minutes, almost doubled the lead from Kenedy’s cross, but his header went the wrong side of the post.

The closing moments saw Watford flinging it at us, with terror abound as Doucoure’s vicious cross was spooned wonderfully high and hopeless by Okaka. Then some kind of fracas erupted when Yedlin went down holding his ankle, Fernandez getting booked for throwing some Watford players about in the resultant flumdiddery.

The ref was a bit of a spoilsport at the end, as with Foster up for a corner United swiftly cleared to Kenedy who had Perez with him to launch a counter on the open goal, only to be halted by the final whistle. Few cared though, as United had their win at the eleventh time of asking.

Some context for that then; incredibly, after so much drudgery, that solitary W was enough to lift us out of the relegation zone. Often in these cases the win can break the dam a bit, and see a run develop all of a sudden. The heavy opening fixtures mean we now have a very winnable sequence ahead to activate this run. Maybe weekends will be a lot more upbeat for the remainder of 2018.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Watford 0

Goal: Perez 65

Possession was Watford 58% Newcastle 42%

Total shots were  Watford 16 Newcastle 10

Shots on target were Watford 1 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Watford 9 Newcastle 8

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Schar 45), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey (Ki 51), Kenedy, Rondon, Muto (Perez 45+2)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Joselu, Manquillo, Atsu

Crowd: 49,157 (Watford approx 1,500)

(Thousands of Newcastle fans didn’t miss much apart from a win! – Read HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Watford 0 – Read HERE)

(Javi Gracia can’t believe how his Watford side didn’t win, never mind get beat – Read HERE)

(Graeme Swann video message for Rafa Benitez after Newcastle win – See HERE)

(Charlie Nicholas dissects Newcastle 1 Watford 0 – Read HERE)

(Rafa Benitez post-match verdict – Read 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


  • Kenny

    Ki has commented he was going for goal, not crossing the ball,
    it bounced off the oil slicks head & rocketed into the net,
    Hoss would have been proud of that one
    😂😂😂😂

    • Billmag

      Can’t believe when he headed the ball there wasn’t a hair out of place.😀

      • Kenny

        😂😂

      • grantham mag

        Olive oil better than brylcream.

    • Wor Lass

      Remember the “rat in a dustbin”?

    • Toon Arnie

      I’m not a fan of Perez at all but to be fair it was a quality finish.

  • Philippines

    Best match report I have read for a long time. Ki looks very good. Much better than Shelvey for me, who tries too many wasted long balls and gives the ball away too much.

    • Toon Arnie

      Ki was really good but there’s no way he’s better than Shelvey. We need the two of them in the team together. Diame needs to be taken out of the team as he’s totally lost the form he had in the latter part of last season and is contributing nothing.

      • Ram Kishore

        There comes in another Arnie. Then we wouldn’t have the physicality in the midfield.
        Personally I have always felt we are one man short on midfield.
        Imo Ki doesn’t track back, I am saying this from the Swansea comments I remember which was posted in the Mag.
        I wonder Rafa will ever go with 3 man midfield.
        Rafa will never drop Diame until he has someone like him or better than him

  • Alan

    Not sure why we need match reports on a Monday afternoon.
    Went to the match, saw MOTD, read the papers.

  • Themoscow72

    Best part of the match were Kenedy walking through their defence, Kenedy tackling back and the great Perez scoring a wonder goal. Wolves crowd set to top fifty thousand by as early as next week a month before the fixture takes place.

    • Ashley-out

      best part of the match was the final whistle

      • Wezza

        I laughed when I heard the attendance… they can’t even tell the truth on that!
        That moscow troll is acting as if he is working for KBA. A sad little liar who gets caught out all too often. Thank goodness for the block button.

        • Themoscow72

          There was only single seats left in the normal part of the grounD as is the case for Saturday. There were seats together at sixty ponds but there useless support meant the crowd dropped be the same for Saturday. Wolves will hit fifty thousand, West Ham fifty one happy days. Off to the Monkey now to celebrate a great victory.

          • Toon Arnie

            Stop it !! There were blocks of empty seats next to the away fans. You are always wrong with your crowd predictions so don’t bother.

          • Wezza

            He is just trolling, said there wasn’t any more than single seats I saw a row of four empty seats. He is such a lying little troll. He gives the game away when he speaks ill of Jezza.

          • Themoscow72

            Only single seats left for Saturday in normal part of ground but will be 2,000 empty in the Bournemouth end a disgrace.

          • Wezza

            I don’t care how many seats are left.

          • Themoscow72

            The empty seats were for Watford supporters and there were nearly weo thousand of them a disgrace. I said the attendances would be as follows which takes into account two home games in a week twice. Huddersfield and Bournemouth both 49,000 West Ham 51,000 Wolves 50,000 and Fulham 48,000. See how close I am got one right all ready out of my five predictions.

          • Toon Arnie

            I was meaning further along, where the s songing section used to be before Ashley got rid of it. Fair enough you’ve put your predictions down in writing so you can’t get any fairer than that. The Wolves game will be interesting though and I think you’ll need the published attendance to hit that 50k prediction !

          • Themoscow72

            So Saturday we have 484 single seats in the normal part of the ground, 255 in the bar areas 447 in the Family Enclosure of which lots are single seats which you cannot buy and 249 in Cavers corner giving a grand total of 1,435. Most of these will sell this week and on the match day. However cannot see Bournemouth fetching more than 1200.
            Wolves will bring 3,200 that is why the attendance will it fifty thousand. Think round 49,000 all ready sold including their allocation of tickets.

          • Toon Arnie

            Wolves boycott ?

          • Themoscow72

            I have asked over one hundred people now and not one is boycotting. However I only asked what you would call the die hard supporters who would never miss any way so perhaps an unfair reflection.

          • Big Hairy Man

            The club will publish the attendance and you will believe it. About time clubs were obliged to publish the true attendance, ie people through turnstiles.

          • Toon Arnie

            To be fair though I think a lot of clubs publish tickets sold. Arsenal had huge gaps last season yet still published 60,000 and ‘Citeh’ always publish around 54,000 at The Emptyhad.

          • grantham mag

            Ponds is that Russian for euro’s dicksplash.

          • Geordiegiants

            There????? Get back to pennywell high.

          • Themoscow72

            Whitley Bay in Monkseaton. Pennywell is where the Mag’s and Magpie Group’s training camps are held.

      • Wor Lass

        You`re not wrong there!

    • Toon Arnie

      The great Perez ? Silliness

      • Kneebotherm8

        Very silliness….

    • Big Hairy Man

      The best part was the final whistle. Watford’s far superior squad were desperately unlucky not to take 3 deserved points. The lack of quality in our squad was laid bare for all to see but we managed to hang on against the mighty Watford. But hey, you get what you pay for.

    • Ram Kishore

      Home crowds have dropped to 49k Moscow.. u gotta be conservative in your predictions. Just saying

      • Themoscow72

        Only because Watford brought just over a thousand and we have thousands of corporate tickets on sale at sixty pounds each crazy money. With two games in a week I predicted 49,000 for Huddersfield and Bournemouth, 51,000 West Ham 50,000 Wolves and 48,000 Fulham as they will bring a mini bus and a dog.

  • KennySamsung

    Is the “finger in ears” thing about not being able to handle the crticism he gets? He shouldn’t do it, end of.