Thousands of stay away Newcastle fans didn’t miss much apart from a win!
The scoreboard read Newcastle 1 Watford 0 but I’m still not sure how.
It looked only a case of how many Watford would win by as they dominated the first half.
Newcastle tried to pressure from the kick-off and did ok for about five minutes, winning an early corner.
However, the visitors quickly took over and Newcastle’s goal led a charmed life.
Javi Gracia will be going mad with his players as they should have had the game won by half-time.
That they didn’t, was due to a combination of very wasteful finishing, Dubravka doing very well in terms of sweeping and dominating his box, whilst there were some classic examples of last ditch defending.
With Muto forced off on the stroke of half-time and then Lascelles not emerging after the break, things were going from bad to worse.
Then in the space of 60 seconds the game changed.
Watford were very unlucky to see the ball rebound off the bar five minutes into the second-half then Shelvey immediately was subbed with an injury.
As well as losing arguably our two best players in Lascelles and Shelvey, it also meant that both Diame and Rondon would have to play the full 90 minutes. The two of them badly off the pace and struggling to get about the pitch.
Watford had controlled the game up to this point and the pace and movement of their front six was totally at odds with Newcastle’s midfield and forward line.
However, Ki’s arrival transformed Newcastle from a bit of a shambles to at least something resembling a team.
His willingness to run with and keep the ball was a massive step up from Diame and Shelvey’s contribution and he got the team playing a bit, especially Kenedy, whilst Rondon started to come into it as well.
A goal was only ever going to come from a set-piece if Newcastle were scoring it and an excellent Ki delivery was met by Perez’ head to win the game.
A nervous 25 minutes followed but Watford now resorted to long balls and that very much suited Fernandez who was excellent and as always Newcastle’s best defender, credit to Schar who came on and did his bit.
Newcastle should have capitalised when breaking but lacked the confidence and maybe the quality to take advantage and seal the game.
Dubravka and Fernandez marshalling the troops to see the win out.
Watford did have a golden chance in injury time but from around eight yards out their player somehow skied it into the Leazes End.
The official crowd was 49,157, the lowest of the season, but in reality there was probably only around 47,000 inside St James Park at the most.
I won’t say the five thousand or so who stayed away missed a lot in terms of football but a first home win in seven months was a massive relief, a first win of any kind in six months.
It also prevented this team going into the record books…
A sixth home defeat in a row would be the first time any top flight club had achieved that at the start of a season, whilst never in the club’s history had any NUFC team failed to win any of their first 11 games.
Still not sure the quality is there but Newcastle did keep at it and got their reward. Hopefully the luck will stay with the team and they will get some confidence and momentum from this result.
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
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Schar 45), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey (Ki 51), Kenedy, Rondon, Muto (Perez 45+2)
Darlow, Joselu, Manquillo, Atsu
Crowd: 49,157 (Watford approx 1,500)
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]