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Sunshine, extra beer and a peace offering kebab…What is it about later kick-offs at St James Park?

2 months ago
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What is it with later kick-offs?

Normally on a Saturday, it’s meet about 12, few beers before kick-off, into the game and then dissect the result in the pub afterwards, so being a later kick off the sensible thing to do would be meet later……not a chance!

The hot sun, the late kick-off and early meet ensured beers a plenty were sunk before kick-off, resulting in a possibly hazed match report, does it matter anyway?As 99% of you will have seen the match or MOTD!

Anyway, back to the pub where the beers were being sloshed down faster than they could be poured, our group has little interest on what goes in other games (except for betting purposes), so the only interlude was when news of the team came through, a bit of disappointment for some as Shelvey was again left out but after the great win at Leicester how could things be changed anyway?

Up to the ground and into my seat at 5.25, in time to see the magnificent flag and display at the Gallowgate End, credit to all involved.

The atmosphere was lively as the game kicked off but to be fair, after a quiet opening 20 mins, apart from one Almiron effort, things settled down and it seems like the crowd were content to doze in the sun.

However, this changed when from a Southampton corner, a clearance by the again impressive Manquillo, sends our Paraguayan speedster into space, not just into space but only one defender between him and a clear run on goal, Rondon is actually ahead of Almiron so no matter how you look at it, it’s a clear goal scoring opportunity…what comes next is farcical though as Almiron is cleaned out by this one defender, it has to be a red card!

But wait a minute, the referee is running over to where the offence took place, with YELLOW card clearly in hand, he had made his mind up without even taking the time to think about it, hence 98% of SJP erupts into snarling bitter fury. Rafa and his bench are equally incensed and to compound this Rafa’s number two and main defensive coach Mikel Antia is dispatched to the stands – shocking officialdom of the highest order!

However, this incident fired up the crowd and the team visibly upped their game, physical but fair tackles were snapping in and from one of these Perez is suddenly away. He had a lot to do but do it he did, as he scored a goal of sublime class and accuracy, suffice to say if Aguero had scored one like it (he did against us at the Etihad a few seasons ago) the press would wax lyrical about it for weeks on end.

Moments later and another tackle is made and suddenly Rondon is clear on the left wing, with Almiron racing through after him like a human greyhound screaming for the ball, Rondon looks up and then instead of giving it to Miggy slips the most delightful ball across the six yard box where Perez was sprinting in to pounce, 2-0, get in!

The rest of the half is one-sided and on the stroke of half-time Rondon himself could have got in on the act, however, take nothing away from him, his situation needs resolving right now.

A very rushed half-time beer and back in time for the second-half, where I am clearly operating on adrenaline, Ki rattles the woodwork from 20 yards and Hayden has a volley remarkably well saved by the Saints GK but in truth, in the second-half Southampton came out guns blazing and were rewarded with a goal of high quality themselves. SJP fell silent for a few minutes, another chance came and went for the Saints but just when you need it most, the love for Rafa pours from the stands.

The players are again visibly lifted and I can’t remember Southampton threatening again before we got our third, a third goal where following a short clearance Matt Richie comes in with commitment and bravery to flash a diving header goalbound, whether the keeper was going to get near it is irrelevant, as our in-form Spaniard deftly redirects the ball away from the keeper’s dive, 3-1 and a first home hat-trick at SJP since Gini Wijnaldum’s effort against Norwich a few years ago.

Just time for Martin Dubravka to come up with one more world class save before the inept referee blows for full time. Crowd and players celebrate as one and Rafa of course shakes everyone’s hand and acknowledges the love from his adoring public!

There can only be one Man of the Match – Ayoze Perez, but everyone chipped in again yesterday, there is quality for sure, hopefully Almiron is not too serious as he has seriously changed the way this team plays.

With the adrenaline still flowing, more beers are hastily downed. It is clear the town is on a mission to rock all night, people are chirping away merrily and just for once the world is a very good place to be!

Home to wifey with peace offering kebab in hand, which was not well received, seconds later while trying to watch match of the day it’s 3am and I wake up fully clothed on the settee!

Of course we wake up this morning with the hangover from hell, where the only cure is going to be the hair of the dog (be with you soon lads), and while yesterday is now gone, the reality is obvious, the potential for NUFC is unlimited, we know it, Rafa damn well knows it and there is only one man preventing it.

I’m not going to sully the report by mentioning his name.

Rafa is going to manage until he is 70, he wants one more Champions League medal, now there is a dream for us all, but you know what…give him the tools and he will have a damn good go, but alas probably not with us.

Happy Easter everyone.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 3 Southampton 1

Goals:

Newcastle:

Perez 27, 31, 86

Southampton:

Lemina 59

Possession was Southampton 57% Newcastle 43%

Total shots were Southampton 15 Newcastle 14

Shots on target were Southampton 3 Newcastle 6

Corners were Southampton 11 Newcastle 4

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Schar (Fernandez 69), Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden (Diame 78), Ki, Almiron (Atsu 64), Perez, Rondon

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Shelvey, Muto, Yedlin

Crowd: 52,191 (1,700 Southampton)

(Blinding honesty from Ralph Hasenhuttl after the 3-1 defeat – HERE)

(Rafa tells Mike Ashley after win over Southampton that Newcastle have to start and compete on transfers and wages – HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to beating Southampton HERE)

(Alan Shearer reacts to Newcastle 3 Southampton 1 HERE)

(Date and time finally confirmed for Newcastle v Liverpool on Saturday night – Details HERE)

(NUFC match ratings and comments – HERE)

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