What’s this? A match that’s not on the telly? At least not any that we could possibly mention publicly. If you weren’t there and relied on the old-fashioned radio, let Stephen Ord tell you how we (eventually) took another giant step towards the Champions League thanks to wor Callum. And if you were, well, do exactly the same with the TF match report.
Newcastle United had a brilliant week, but being honest we’d played really well in two thirty-five minute blocks: the first half against Spurs and the second half (after 55) against Everton. Both times it could’ve been anything. So when you come back home to play the worst team in the league it’s ok to be maybe a little over confident, right?
Rumours of wins by anything from three to six goals being the betting norm were a sign that, like Tim Wood put in his article earlier in the week, we don’t have to worry about our footballing lives as much any more. At least that’s what we thought…
The atmosphere was great at the start, the crowd were loud and Gordon for Longstaff was the main change. Burn was back in at left back and our very own GOAT was back in attack.
A quick break saw Bednerak clatter someone and end up in the book – pace was going to be there in abundance. Twice Anthony Gordon was played in: the first time he hit the side netting and the second he hit the post. It feels a little bit like when Miggy came under Rafa. You’ve got bags of pace … just score! He didn’t.
Meanwhile, the midfield looked lethargic and maybe some of that over confidence had understandably moved from stands to pitch. Bruno got caught on the ball trying to turn, Saints were in three on three, a ball came across, and Stuart Armstrong lashed it past Pope. The keeper had by this stage already saved us twice.
It was curious. The movement for us was either utterly sublime or totally non-existent. When Gordon swapped sides, they all seemed to want to do an under lap, and the ball rarely made the box. On one occasion the ball fell to Bruno and he volleyed wide, but we were poor first half, make no mistake.
Half time was met with the weird feeling that we’d not been very good, but were only one nil down. And as we returned to our seats, we discovered that Gordon had been hooked for Wilson. Isak came out wide left and showed (again) that he’s not a traditional nine. In fact, he does a very good impression of a Frenchman who once wore 14.
It was simply one way traffic.
Newcastle scored three, had another disallowed, and really kicked on. Wilson was everywhere and was only denied three by first the keeper, second VAR, third the bar, and fourth Elliot Anderson who stepped in front of him as he looked to pull the trigger. There was a word in his ear, and Anderson smiled back.
The first chance he got came from a deep Trippier free kick. Botman flung himself at it and the keeper clawed it down. Wilson looked to burst the net, but the lunging defender and the keeper’s position turned it wide.
The first goal soon followed, a ball down the line from Burn to Isak. The Swede made a run, then cut the ball behind the defender, one slipped when attempting to reposition himself, and Wilson lifted it into the Gallowgate net.
Then came VAR’s intervention. Isak looked to find Wilson as he stood unmarked in the box, the ball ran across Miggy, whose touch meant Wilson was offside. His second chance denied.
Now, VAR has its strengths, but this one was maddening. Not for the decision, that was correct, but for the time it took. They watched it on a tablet in the dugout, Tindall made a signal to the lads: it’s not counting, get back in. A bloke who sits along from us had time to celebrate the goal, go down to the loo, watch the replay, and tell us it was offside before VAR made a decision. Two minutes is ridiculous, bring in automated offsides and be done with it.
By now, the lads were fired up and the crowd were with them. One tackle seemed an attempt to break Wilson’s leg and only saw yellow. Southampton were chasing the game and Theo Walcott came on; safe to say, his forte is not defending. A Trippier corner, a Botman flick, and a Walcott shin into the net. Bruno celebrated wildly, Botman was mobbed by team mates. The goal was credited to the Brazilian, when it was clearly an own goal. No matter, we were winning.
A long ball forward by Pope was allowed to bounce behind. Wilson, who was offside, left it, Willock went for it. The defender turned him and had the ball, except that Wilson was following in, rounded McCarthy, and it was three.
Then another moment that probably won’t make the highlights. Isak slalomed through five players, passed to Bruno and set off for the box. They all tried to bring him down but he was free, Bruno opted to go the other way and Isak’s arms went up in frustration. As the move broke down he knew his day was over.
Ritchie and Anderson arrived and pressed further. Always nice to see the wee Scottish radgie, while Anderson seemed desperate for an SJP goal.
Finally, the six added minutes were ticking down, and Paul Dummett was about to be given a thirty second run out. The ball wouldn’t got out and he was left looking on from the sidelines as the final whistle blew.
Another three points, another home win. Two more wins and the Champions League seems certain. Hope Sean is back soon to sort the midfield out – we missed him again today!
Stephen Ord @smord84