There’s a calm after a storm as well as one before. The wind and rain that has lashed slowly disappears and you’re left to pick your way through the wreckage. Sometimes it’s eerie. Sometimes it’s a sign that everything is just returning to normal. Shaken, slightly stirred, but returning to normal again.
International break seen off, as Lee said in his preview only punctuated in an NUFC circle by Sandro and the Italian police, as well as Isak coming home early. Has the storm passed? The one on Friday did … Sandro’s is delayed at present.
The great thing about our squad now is you can argue about who goes where, who comes in, and are they going to have to deliver immediately? Gordon was back, Joelinton into midfield once more. Murphy for Miggy. Wilson for Isak. If I was Roy Hodgson I’d have taken more than a moment to consider changing tack and playing out a boring goal less draw with five at the back. He didn’t, and by God it was great.
The early exchanges saw Newcastle nipping about the Palace midfield. But when they got the ball, they used it and moved it with a swagger. I’m not sure whether Jacob Murphy thought there was an umbrella he needed to clear. Trippier took the pass and played it off to him, Murphy lobbed the keeper, probably with a cross. Flag went up.
This is one of those moments I love. Those around me, he’s off by a mile, me I don’t think so. One member of the East Stand had a very smug grin. The opportunity to celebrate twice, and as Murphy ran to the Gallowgate, he was not showing any sign it was unintentional. It didn’t matter to us, or him.
Immediately Mateta almost equalised with a header from a corner. He rose unopposed and headed it wide. Roy Hodgson would probably not believe that this would be his side’s only real chance of the game.
Newcastle began to really show up. PSG couldn’t live with it, Palace were gripping on by their fingernails. Anthony Gordon hit the Gallowgate cross bar after Sam Johnstone (Pope’s recent replacement in the England squad) clawed one away. We were pulling them left and right. If it was a kids’ game you’d probably have wondered about the levels and wondered if the sides had been picked unfairly. Marc Guehi, so dominant on Tuesday when he came on for England, had too many runners and too much pressure to deal with.
One-touch passes left and right, Gordon enjoying himself, but no killer second. Instead a rousing sing song of the name of our Italian midfielder, who from the dugout raised a hand in thanks. When he went to warm up the whole ground applauded.
Then as first half time crept to a close the ball was switched by Schär to Murphy. He took it forward and placed a cross to the far stick. Enter the Scouse Bellamy and it was two nothing. He made similar late runs throughout, and it was interesting to see Tindall and he exchange big thumbs up. Five minutes injury time. Chance of a third?
Sean Longstaff collected the ball as Mitchell fell, it seemed to bobble for an age in front of him and then he lashed it into the net. He is one of our own, and the great thing is the first person to grab him was Wilson who’d gone towards it. We were rampant. Silence from the South London away end. Utter silence.
I thought we were supposed to regress because of this Champions League lark. I thought other fans said we’d turn on Eddie Howe by Christmas, because he’d be under pressure and we’d be struggling. If this is what we are like when we are tired, then bring it on.
The second half started at a relatively sedate pace. We were twisting their midfield three left and right, but they looked like they were sitting in to save a hiding. On a rare foray forward they won a corner. Pope claimed it, gave it Trippier. He sent Murphy away down the line. Callum Wilson away from his marker. Callum Wilson in space. Callum Wilson scores.
Then to cheer up the away side, a very rarely seen quadruple substitution. Did we get weaker? Bruno, Wilson, Gordon and Trips for Tino, Isak, Tonali and Almirón. It’s hard to say.
Shortly after, from another counter Miggy was in, but his shot was well saved and fell away from the on rushing Murphy. Never mind, it didn’t matter.
We stopped pushing as hard. Anderson came on for Joelinton. And then that was that. Oh apart from an exceptional Nick Pope save from a free kick.
The ground was a third empty at the final whistle. Too much injury time and a ridiculously late finish, but one that deserved the applause they got from those that stayed.
A lot of “see you Wednesday” shouts. Goodness me it’s a great time to be a Newcastle fan.
Stephen Ord @smord84