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Match Reports

A great setting for one of the best Newcastle United away performances in recent memory

4 weeks ago
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The script had already been written.

Inspired by the so called ‘Wall of Noise’ at their new stadium, Tottenham Hotspur were going to romp to victory against Steve Bruce’s demoralised Newcastle United.

The reality could not be more different. Steve Bruce is off the mark with his first three points and the atmosphere from home fans was more like the Emirates than the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund they aimed to emulate as part of the new stadium design.

Going into the match you would have got very long odds on a Newcastle victory and it was hard to be optimistic. We had been awful against Norwich and Spurs are now one of the finest clubs in Europe, with a new stadium to match their lofty ambitions.

In his recent newspaper interview, Mike Ashley said we could not financially compete with Spurs. Today he is right – but it is worth remembering that our financial revenue was comparable when he took over the club in 2007. Before then we had finished above them more often than not in the Premier League era and the term Spursy was regularly used by opposition fans to describe snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Quite simply Spurs used to be a laughing stock but today they could not be more different. They have some of the finest players in the world, one of the world’s best managers and reached their first Champions League final last season. The only thing they don’t have yet is a trophy to show for it. I guess some things don’t change.

Travelling up from South London, I thankfully avoided the travel chaos which saw all trains cancelled between Newcastle and Kings Cross due to engineering works. Credit to all the fans that were able to travel down from the North East for the game. Despite this we sold our entire allocation of 3,000 tickets.

Despite our low expectations for the match, I had been looking forward to this. There has been a lot of hype about the new stadium and I was looking forward to seeing what the fuss is about. We have also had some good days at the old White Hart Lane including a victory on our last visit in December 2015. It’s shorts at the football weather and the middle day of a bank holiday weekend!

After a spot of lunch in Victoria, we take the tube to Seven Sisters before embarking on what must be one of the longest walks between station and stadium. The atmosphere is very relaxed and home and away fans mix together well. We arrive at the ground around 3:15pm.

As this is my first visit to the stadium, I decided to get there a bit early. From an Autistic perspective, I find this helps settle any nerves associated with attending a new venue I am not familiar with. From the outside the Stadium is very impressive and looks a bit like a giant spaceship. Access to stadium was very easy and the staff around the ground were extremely helpful.

You can tell that Spurs have gone out of their way to improve the fan experience. My one criticism is that it feels like an event venue rather than a football stadium.

By the time we enter the ground, the singing has already started, and the Toon Army took advantage of panels around the stairs and concourse to create extra noise. We take the opportunity to try a Beavertown beer which was brewed in the stadium’s microbrewery. The stadium is cash free so make sure you have a contactless card with you if you visit in the future. Interestingly, the beer is actually served from the bottom of the cup! I have certainly never seen this at a ground before.

As we take our seats, we hear that the England Cricket team have completed the unlikeliest of comebacks to win the third test of the Ashes. Maybe sporting miracles do happen?

We enter the stadium bowl and we are very impressed. Last year I went to the new San Mames Stadium in Bilbao and there are similarities between the two. The single tier South Stand opposite us looks particularly impressive. The stadium has also been designed with potential standing sections in mind and safety bars are in place in the away end. I wish more grounds did this as it certainly makes you feel far safer. Let’s be honest, every attempt to enforce seating in away ends has failed. Let’s focus on making these areas as safe as possible.

After the Norwich fiasco last week, we are pleased to hear that Bruce has gone back to the 3 4 3/5 2 3 formation that worked so well last season. Shelvey and Ki have been dropped and Longstaff and new signing Saint-Maximin are in. The Spurs line up looks very strong and is full of internationals. Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele are both injured and Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen are on the bench. Former Newcastle sulk Moussa Sissoko gets his usual hostile reception from away supporters.

After one of the cheesiest pre match videos I have ever seen, the teams enter the pitch. The Toon Army are in good voice and are wearing their orange away kit for the first time. I certainly won’t be rushing out to buy it any time soon.

Newcastle are kicking towards the away end in the first half. Spurs dominate possession straight from kick off, but Newcastle are able to keep their defensive shape well. We win a free kick on our left and take it short towards the touchline but Allain Saint-Maximin is unable to reach it in time. The away end groans but it is quickly apparent that he is injured again and is replaced by Christian Atsu. I hope that Steve Bruce did not rush him back before he was ready.

The atmosphere in the away end goes up a notch as Hugo Lloris makes a good save after a powerful Sean Longstaff shot from the corner of the penalty box. The resulting corner does not result in anything but our confidence is building. A fine move eventually sees the ball come to Christian Atsu in the opposition half, he then dinks the ball over the head of Davidson Sanchez and into the path of our new number nine Joelinten who controls the ball superbly with his right foot. This time Lloris can’t make the save, Joelinton’s left footed shot and we find ourselves celebrating an unlikely lead. Just the small matter of holding out for 63 minutes plus injury time now.

A jubilant away end gets even louder and the Spurs fans cannot be heard. The Toon Army starts to sing “Is this the Emirates?”

Eventually, they wake from their slumber after ex Mackem Danny Rose dives to try to win a penalty. Mike Dean does not award the spot kick, but the Spurs pressure is starting to build. Martin Dubravka makes a good save from Son Heung-Min at his near post and Christian Atsu just does enough to put off Lucas Moura as he steers a shot wide as the half time whistle blows.

We are halfway to completing mission impossible but a long way to go. It is worth remembering that Spurs were also behind at this point when they faced Aston Villa on the opening day of the season. Spurs legend Ledley King is interviewed on the pitch at half time. Thankfully he gets through this without picking up an injury.

Spurs once again show their intent in the early stages of the half without creating many chances. Fabian Schar gets a vital block in to deny Erik Lamela a goalscoring chance and Lucas Moura drags a feeble shot wide from outside the box. On the counter, Matt Ritchie finds Joelinton but he is unable to control it and he ends up on a heap in a floor. Spurs play on much to the disgust of the Newcastle players and fans. Its worth remembering though that it is up to the referee to stop play in these situations.

Spurs make two changes in quick succession, Christian Eriksen comes off from the bench in place of the poor Erik Lamela and new signing Giovani Lo Celso comes on for Kyle Walker-Peters.

Spurs appeal for another penalty. This time Jamaal Lascelles appears to fall into the path of Harry Kane. The referee signals to play on but the decision is referred to VAR who also agree that a penalty should not be given. In real time, I must admit that I thought a penalty but watching the replay it looks like Kane might have fallen into Lascelles path. It is not easy to tell, and VAR can only overturn a decision if there is a clear and obvious error.

Throughout the match Kane tried his best to imitate John Terry and tried to influence Mike Dean’s decision making. I am amazed he didn’t get booked. The Newcastle fans react to this with a chant of “You’re just a sh.. Alan Shearer”.

Spurs have their best chance of the match while Lascelles is receiving treatment for an injury. Lucus Moura blazes a volley over the bar. For the first time we were starting to believe that we may pull this off. Lascelles is replaced by Fredrico Fernandez.

Despite the introduction of Eriksen, Spurs keep delivering the ball into the same area around the six-yard box. Dummett and Schar both make important clearances.

Spurs are now leaving space for us to counter-attack and we almost take advantage as Miguel Almiron is able to run to the edge of the spurs penalty box. He tries to slip in Joelinton but the pass goes wide. The ball goes back to Almiron who shoots over the bar. At this stage it is clear that Joelinton is unable to continue and he is replaced by Yoshinori Muto.

There are six minutes of added time. Kane has a chance in the box but is unable to make clear contact. A much improved Emil Krafth is able to clear and gets the ball to Amiron who wins a vital throw in halfway up the pitch.

The whistle finally goes. We have pulled off the most unlikely of victories. The away end belts out a continues chorus of “Who’s that team we call United” as the team comes over to thank the fans. We then make the long walk back to Seven Sisters with a spring in our step.

It is amazing that this performance came only eight days after Norwich. Spurs possibly did enough to earn a draw but only two shots on target from 80% possession tells you its own story.

Paul Dummett was outstanding and I hope he eventually gets the wider recognition he deserves. You will not see many better performances from a defender this season. Schar was also brilliant and Joelinton looked far more effective in a formation that got the best out of him. Let’s hope we never play the Norwich 3 5 2 formation again.

Credit must go to Steve Bruce for making the change. Rafa Benitez may be gone but this was a performance that was symbolic of his side. Bruce would be wise not to change too much too soon.

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Spurs’ new stadium. It is an impressive venue and clearly built with the supporter experience in mind. A great setting for one of the best away performances in recent memory.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Tottenham 0 Newcastle 1 – Sunday 25 August 4.30pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

Joelinton 27

Possession was Tottenham 80% Newcastle 20%

Total shots were Tottenham 16 Newcastle 8

Shots on target were Tottenham 2 Newcastle 3

Corners were Tottenham 6 Newcastle 6

Referee: Mike Dean

Newcastle team v Tottenham:

Dubravka, Krafth, Schar, Lascelles (Fernandez 82), Dummett,  Hayden, Longstaff, Ritchie, Saint-Maximin (Atsu 17), Almiron, Joelinton (Muto 88)

Unused Subs

Darlow, Manquillo, Willems, Shelvey

Crowd: 59,245  (3,000 NUFC)

(Mauricio Pochettino not happy with the game – Read HERE)

(Watch official match highlights HERE)

(Read match ratings for all NUFC players HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the win – Read HERE)

You can follow Kieran on Twitter @KJR90

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