Newcastle extended their unbeaten run in the league yesterday thank to a bit of luck, some sound defensive play, and an absolute stunner from Ryan Taylor.
The win keeps our unbeaten run going ahead of what is a tough run of fixtures where we play the two teams directly above us followed by the one directly below us. In truth few expect us to get anything from those games, so to get another win and extend our unbeaten league run to 14 games is just what the doctor ordered.
You see we’ve got ourselves into a position where these next three games are no pressure games. Nobody expects us to get anything from them, and even if we don’t (I think we’ll pick up some points in fairness) the fact that we have already have 25 points means that we could essentially lose all three and then still be in touch with the European spots.
Alan Pardew made one enforced change to the side that won at Stoke as Sylvain Marveaux came in for the injured Gabriel Obertan. It was a straight swap and Marveaux occupied the right wing ensuring that the dynamics of the team were left unchanged.
Newcastle started on the ascendency and looked to take the game to the away side. They didn’t really create any clear cut chances, but some of the quick passing and movement showed some real intent and you got the sense that it would only be a matter of time before we found the breakthrough.
As it happens, we did find the breakthrough just 12 minutes in although it was thanks to a large slice of luck and a mistake on the part of Everton defender John Heitinga who diverted Danny Simpson’s weak cross past his own ‘keeper and into the back of the net. 1-0.
Everton could have got straight back into it as they went in search for the equaliser, going close through Leon Osman and Louis Saha while on loan midfielder Royston Drenthe continued to cause problems for the home defence.
Drenthe may have been catching my eye, but that soon changed when Newcastle went 2-0 up on 29 minutes. Jack Rodwell failed to adequately deal with a long thrown and his tame header fell to Ryan Taylor who half-volleyed the ball goalwards from 25-yards. I was sat right in line with the ball and seen it dip and move over Tim Howard and into the back of the net. A cracking goal. The best one I’ve seen for a long time.
At 2-0 we should have closed the game out for a bit, but Everton came back again and had yet more chances, with the closest one being from Louis Saha who struck the post with Tim Krul beaten. Newcastle had their own chances though as Demba Ba went close and Ryan Taylor hit the crossbar with a cross.
Yohan Cabaye was withdrawn on 37 minutes after picking up a groin strain and was replaced with former Evertonian Dan Gosling. The change seemed to unsettle Newcastle a bit although my Man of the Match, Danny Guthrie – AKA G-Unit, ensured that any disruption was kept to a minimum.
I was praying for Newcastle to go in at half time two goals up so we could reorganise, but it wasn’t to be and Jack Rodwell gave the visitors a lifeline in first half stoppage time after losing his marker in the box and heading a Royston Drenthe corner past Tim Krul.
Half-time: Newcastle 2-1 Everton
The second half was going to be tough. Everton had their tails up after that goal and tried everything looking for the equaliser. They kept the ball well and pinned Newcastle in their own half for long periods of the game as Newcastle struggled to get a hold on proceedings.
Indeed Everton could feel aggrieved not to have had a penalty after a handball in the box by Dan Gosling although from where I was sat it seemed to be an accident and Gosling was trying to get his hand out of the way. Make of that what you will…
Despite that though, and despite all of the pressure and possession the away side had, they very rarely threatened the goal. Neither did Newcastle in fairness as they struggled to break out of their own half and resorted to trying to hit Everton on the break by utilising the pace of Sammy Ameobi and Hatem Ben Arfa who replaced an injured Sylvain Marveaux and Leon Best respectively.
I must confess that I wasn’t comfortable with what I was seeing from the home side. I’m not deluded enough to think that we’ll have things our own way all the time in every game but I didn’t like the way that we were unable to keep hold of the ball for longer periods. Mind you with the defence playing the way they did it didn’t matter in the end.
Full-time: Newcastle 2-1 Everton
On balance I think a draw would have been a fairer result, but I’m not interested in balance really and I couldn’t care less as NUFC won!
We now have 25 points from our first 11 games of the season. Whilst I never subscribed to all the doom and gloom over the summer months I still never expected this. I don’t think anyone can seriously say they did, can they?
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez Leon Best, Demba Ba
Subs: Rob Elliot, Davide Santon, James Perch, Dan Gosling, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi,
Everton: Tim Howard, Tony Hibbert, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, John Heitinga, Seamus Coleman, Royston Drenthe, Phil Neville, Jack Rodwell, Leon Osman, Louis Saha
Subs: Jan Mucha, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Denis Stracqualursi, James McFadden, Sylvain Distin, Tim Cahill, Apostolos Vellios