Imagine if Newcastle 3 Everton 2 was your first ever game – My 4 year son will never forget this…
There are moments in life you will always remember, days that stand out and events that will always make you smile.
For me, today was set to be one of these, as I took my four year-old son Blake to his first ever Newcastle match, a rite of passage in many a family, especially in the north east.
In Bobby Robson’s famous quote, the small boy falls in love with his team the moment he reaches the top of the steps and sees the pitch. However, there will surely be some impact from whatever game the child witnesses that affects whether they feel inclined to return or not.
I was hoping that United could overcome their recent blind spot for Everton and give a display he would remember. As it turns out, he’s getting taken back whether he likes it or not if his presence inspires games like this.
Anyone who has taken a small child to a game before will be familiar of the routine of unwrapping sweeties, answering canny little questions (“why did the footballer fall over?” “Are Evingtom in blue?”). It also means impromptu and urgent trips to the toilet, and it was during one of these that the hollow, deflating sound of a cheer from the opposite end of the ground told me that Everton had scored. I decided not to tell Blake so as not to put him off, and a later consultation with Match of the Day revealed that Ritchie’s attempted clearance was cut out by Digne, who then crossed for Calvert-Lewis to glance a header inside Dubravka’s far post. Everyone else in the Premier League beats Everton, why can’t we?
It wasn’t long before the game would be turned on its head by a pivotal moment. When Jordan Pickford hopelessly misjudged Ritchie’s cross and allowed it to fall at Rondon’s feet, he clearly panicked, lunging at our number nine around the waist in a move that has inspired an excellent viral picture of Rondon carrying a rugby ball at the point of the tackle.
No attempt to play the ball and a clear goal scoring opportunity, so Pickford should have been sent off. The melon head with the astonishing power to make these decisions let him off entirely of course.
As Ritchie stepped up for the penalty it felt like a lot to explain to Blake, that as well as being a cheat, the goalie was a charva faced mackem who had inspired conflicting emotions when playing for England the previous summer but was now back to being the scum of the earth, and this had better go in or else it would be terrible.
Pickford saved Ritchie’s uncharacteristically weak down the middle effort with his legs and it was worse than terrible. Schar headed over from the attempted response and from the goal-kick Everton made it 2-0, Gomes powering past Ritchie to square for Richarlison. Utter fury abound at Pickford staying on the field, although in a magnificent twist, this may have turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.
Moments later Perez fought his way through onto Ki’s long ball and Pickford produced a fine save from the resultant effort. You could almost hear the joy on Wearside as they doubtless ignored their own lucky draw at Wycombe Wanderers to obsess on their favourite son’s antics.
I felt it was another blow when Lascelles failed to emerge for the second half having been our best player, tidying up at the back and snuffing out attacks. However, the introduction of Dummett and the change in shape it brought seemed to favour United, as the second half was a much improved performance.
Rondon’s early latch on to Lejeune’s long ball saw his lofted effort bounce just past the post, and later brought pics of the tit in goal mugging off the crowd, Karma was about to have a word.
Newcastle’s first response was brilliant in its execution. Hayden’s cross was won brilliantly by Perez against two massive Everton defenders, before a sweet one-two between him and Rondon ended with Perez lofting a pass and the number 9 volleying it past the nasty little stain in pegs. A canny strike for Blake’s first Newcastle goal but it was about to get better.
The introduction of Shelvey with ten minutes to go seemed to step up the attacking game a notch, as he immediately started pinging balls about. Newcastle had all the momentum now and the crowd knew it. The equaliser was just perfect. Hayden found Almiron in a bit of space 30 yards out and he just let fly. Pickford could only parry it and Perez arrived to fire the rebound under the unraveling mackem. Limbs everywhere and Blake was loving being chucked up a height by me.
I had worried about my four year old’s concentration sticking it past 80 minutes but Blake was thriving on the atmosphere in the ground. It would have been cathartic if Dummett had been the one to decide things but Pickford was equal to his vicious volley. However, the resultant corner was only half-cleared and lofted back in by Hayden. Rondon controlled it, Perez lashed it, Pickford collapsed in a heap.
Blake’s first game was a classic, his little face a picture as he bounced around six feet in the air among the noise, the glee and the relief.
It’s debatable whether another keeper may have done better than Pickford in these scenarios, but regardless of this it was magnificent to win properly, as given the choice between him getting sent off and bashing three past his despairing little arms, I’d take the latter every time.
Pickford’s lack of professionalism in his approach to NUFC is incredibly short-sighted. In years to come he may be desperate for a transfer to a solid Premier League team and his snot nosed disdain has all but ruled out an option that would see him living back amongst his family. He might be looking for a transfer away from Everton before too long if the Toffees fans’ response to his efforts online is anything to go by.
Today would have been great for me regardless, as a day spent in my little lad’s company is always a pleasure, especially when you’ve a few kids and one on one time is less common. It always adds to the experience when the game delivers though and Blake got to feel the St James atmosphere at its best, booing a pantomime villain and seeing the most incredible climax to a game in years (15 years since we came from 2 down to win a Premier League game).
I hope to share many experiences like this with him down the years, a story that will surely be repeated throughout the ground (there’s a great picture of a little lad and his dad celebrating the winner behind Perez, in identical fashion to myself and Blake were about twenty rows behind them).
Whatever infighting and uncertainty there is, this club will always belong to us, and in due course to them. Good luck son, I hope you enjoy it as I’m afraid it won’t always be like this.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 3 Everton 2
Rondon 65, Perez, 81, 84
Calvert-Lewin 18, Richarlison 32
Possession was Everton 54% Newcastle 46%
Total shots were Everton 7 Newcastle 19
Shots on target were Everton 3 Newcastle 7
Corners were Everton 2 Newcastle 8
Referee: Lee Mason
Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles (Dummett 45), Lejeune, Ritchie (Kenedy 73), Hayden, Ki (Shelvey 79), Almiron, Perez, Rondon
Darlow, Joselu, Diame, Manquillo
Crowd: 52,242 (Everton 3,000)
(Excellent match analysis from Matt Le Tissier – Read HERE)
(Alan Shearer perfect reaction to stunning Newcastle 3 Everton 2 comeback HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 3 Everton 2 – HERE)
(Outrageous from Marco Silva as he blames match officials for Newcastle 3 Everton 2 – Read HERE)
(Just have a look at Jordan Pickford’s face after the final whistle – See HERE)
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf
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