For Newcastle to win a game these days is like asking for a miracle.
Since we last won a game Richard Branson went into Mars or the Sun or something, but we simply have to win against Norwich City. No excuses and no hard luck stories.
If we need a history lesson in miracles we don’t need to look far away from our opponents Norwich who on September 28 2016 gave us the sort of complete balls up from an unassailable position we have copyrighted in our history.
Newcastle hadn’t exactly flew out the traps as expected in the Championship and after losing to Huddersfield, Fulham and Wolves and blown a late lead in the previous game at Aston Villa , defeat to the Canaries would have saw the Norfolk club open up a 7 point gap . Although not terminal at that stage of the season as you play 237 games , defeat would have been a huge psychological blow for the Mags who had been very hit and miss .
Just like this week it was a midweek game and both sides were up for it , trading early blows as Gayle was inches away before Darlow twice denied Jerome.
You could see from the off this was not going to be 0-0 and Matt Ritchie , who looked a step above that night as a winger(take note) created the lead for us, curling in a low cross with the outside of his foot.
It was begging to be slammed in and Gayle did so, if he hadn’t , I was going down from the corner to put it in myself. The cross was that good. Plain sailing we thought. Ritchie heading off the bar in a glorious chance for 2-0.
Norwich though hung in there , got off the ropes and levelled right on half time when Graham Dorrans (who seems to have totally disappeared) slammed in a penalty after Gouffran bundled over the full back.
Not many sides that season got off the ropes at St James’ , usually conceding again quickly and losing heavily , but Norwich looked intent on winning the game and soon after half time they went in front as Cameron Jerome cut inside of Shelvey before curling a beauty from the left of the area right in the far corner. To see him do that was galling as he never did that before or since. But 2-1 to them.
A young Jacob Murphy was unbelievable for them that night , we just couldn’t get a grip of him. Running from deep and at pace.
He was basically signed that night as Benitez saw what he could do. We still haven’t seen a game like that from him, but it was him who ran from his own half to set up the third, via a huge deflection after a one two.
The Gallowgate went mad with hands flailing, as it does when we concede quickly. A few left at that point. MENTIONING NO NAMES.
We were down and out at that stage and were contemplating that 7 point gap but typically we got ourselves back in it quickly, as Shelvey launched a long ball a minute later which caused panic and the lethal Gayle quickly controlled and lashed in. Gayle was so good in that situation. Its quite sad how he’s turned into a player who doesn’t play.
Game on. Crucially Murphy was substituted and the player who dragged Norwich up the pitch was gone and after several near misses we were even closer as Ritchie saw his shot tipped over brilliantly.
The game was up I thought when we wasted a two on one entering injury time and I slumped in my seat.
This Newcastle side, this season didn’t know when it was beaten and Benitez dragged them off the floor by the scruff of the neck and in the 95th minute we did it. The equaliser.
A fine cross from the right picked out Gayle who’s pin point header clipped the defender and nestled in the net. Cue bedlam from the fans still left. We had got out of jail.
Crucially though in a show of beauty from this squad they immediately picked the ball up and ran back to the halfway as if we had just scored a consolation.
We had just scored in the 5th minute of injury time to level, yet it wasn’t enough. It was for me .
Then the unbelievable happened. It just doesn’t happen to us.
Shelvey again hoyed it forward from his own half and after a bit of pinball it fell to Gouffran 20 yards out, back to goal and he quickly turned and swept a low shot into the corner.
We had won it !
I would say in terms of me going mental this was second only to Solano making it 4-3 at Leeds. I ended up about 4 rows in front, shins wrecked and hugging random folk. That’s the way to win a game.
I still say Gouffran won us promotion that night whatever people thought of him. We had showed fight and come back in a game we looked like losing 4 or 5-1 at one point. That’s when the tide turned that season.
I wont forget the moment the goal went in that night and I will take it as I go up the steps for this weeks game. We need all the spirit of 28/9/2016 now.