‘Newcastle United, we’re coming for you’. Since Huddersfield fans sang that last Monday on 85 minutes, they’ve conceded five goals and not scored. Alongside Reading’s predictable defeat at Forest, Huddersfield’s nightmare home thrashing made it an excellent weekend for Newcastle United. Three points from our last three games will see us mathematically promoted.

As things stand, Reading cannot catch us unless there is a forty goal swing in our last two games (assuming they win two and we lose three). If Huddersfield were to win their last three games then United would require a point from the last three to secure promotion on goal difference. This is the long way of saying that United are promoted. We will pick up the one point required in the last three, but it’s more likely that Huddersfield simply won’t get to the 85 points we already have. Newcastle United will be playing Premier League football next season, regardless of the result on Monday night.

It would be nice though wouldn’t it? Do it, mathematically in front our own fans on the television. To do it ‘ourselves’ (as if we already haven’t) with two games of the season to go. All of the moaning, ‘worrying’ and anything else to subside for the last two games of the season, if we win on Monday. Fans and players might even enjoy the last two games, pressure off. This is a great position we’ve gotten ourselves in. Those two wins against Burton and Wigan were massive, even if your best mate found them ‘boring’. What followed was a team playing in two away games already aware that he job was done and two below bar and frankly, unacceptable performances followed. Sandwiched in between was the excellent performance against Leeds which should have already rewarded us with mathematical promotion.

In our way on Monday are a Preston side who’ve already played us this season and shipped eight goals. A brilliant night in the Cup saw United stick six past the Lancashire side when really it could and should have been double figures. It was a night where United were just on it even before the referee that night correctly sent off Alan Browne for a disgusting assault on Jack Colback’s skull. Incidentally Colback’s season has never recovered since that challenge. Mitrovic was very good that night and then three days later when we again beat North End at Deepdale. Four goals in two appearances for the Serb that week. One in 17 since. Not the best.

There’s been some talk this week about Huddersfield fan referee Andrew Madley getting the game. Oddly enough he also refereed the home cup tie I’ve referred to. That he’s a Huddersfield fan doesn’t bother me as much as some (including the manager). The refereeing standard this season has been so bad it simile doesn’t matter who the ref supports. He’s already damned by his peers.

Preston have won five and lost eight away games this season. Combined with decent home form they sit slap bang in mid table in eleventh place. They’ve lost their last three games including a 3 0 defeat at Leeds and a laughable 3 2 defeat at Huddersfield when the home side were gifted the win by a referee. Preston will not want a promising season continue to fade this manner and avoiding a fourth straight defeat would represent success in front of the watching nation.

For United Ciaran Clark looks as if he could make a welcome return. He’s been badly missed. I like Daryl Murphy and although he got a goal at Ipswich he seemed badly off the pace. Mitrovic was decent against Leeds and I think he’ll start here. Preston’s defence will probably prefer the Irishman to get a game ahead of the player who made such headway against them earlier this season. Perez may be in line for a recall after a poor display from Diame on Monday. Hayden was brilliant against Leeds and his continued presence aids the team. The only decisions will be made at right back and left wing. I hope to see Yedlin and Goufrann fill those slots but it’s a hard one to call.

This is a great opportunity for the team to seal thee deal in style and put right the wrongs of Monday in Suffolk. We’re three without a win and I’d like to see us win the last three games this season, for no other reason than I like seeing us winning games. Preston are near identical 15 other sides in this decision. Big, hard and a bit dirty. In both games in October they tried to leave their mark physically on United. It backfired big time in the cup and it worked at their place, and they still managed to lose.

Everyone’s hoping for a bumper atmosphere on Monday as we bid to say goodbye to the second division. The sooner we’re mathematically promoted the sooner the planning can start for next season. It’s been a slog but the team have been great 90% of the time in terms of effort and application. That slipped on Monday, hopefully for the last time this season.

Finish it, lads.

3 1 United (Mitrovic hat trick)

ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @rfalex1892 


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