Newcastle took sixth spot in the Premier League this afternoon courtesy of a rather shaky 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers at St James’ Park.
A piece of clever footwork proved the difference as Leon Best scored what was to be the winner in the first half, but beyond that there wasn’t much to choose between the two sides and Mark Hughes could feel aggrieved for not taking anything from the match in his first game in charge of the Loftus Road outfit.
Hatem Ben Arfa was once again left out of the starting line up despite his FA Cup heroics of last week although in fairness it didn’t come as a surprise after Alan Pardew said a few days ago about how the talented Frenchman had to do more work for the team. Indeed he shown glimpses of brilliance today, but then he also showed signs of being greedy ad trying to do too much which resulted in possession being turned over numerous times. Still there were definite signs of improvement once again and Ben Arfa worked harder for the team today than I’ve noticed in the past.
The away side started off the brighter of the two and carved out a number of chances in the opening exchanges. Newcastle just weren’t at the races and QPR were unlucky to capitalise on the hosts slow start to the game as Heidar Helguson and Akos Buszaky tested Tim Krul before Shaun Wright-Phillips clipped the bar after a mistake from Ryan Taylor.
The game changed when Yohan Cabaye was stretchered off on the 20 minute mark following a robust challenge from Shaun Derry. Apparently Cabaye has minor ligament damage which shouldn’t keep him out for long, if at all, but he still managed to react angrily to the challenge before collapsing to a heap on the floor. Hatem Ben Arfa replaced him.
It was the introduction of Ben Arfa that lead to us getting a foothold in the game though, even though he didn’t directly have an awful lot to do with it. Ryan Taylor went close with Newcastle’s first effort at goal but more was to come just a few minutes later when Jonas Gutierrez fed the ball into Shola Ameobi who then played Ryan Taylor in. The move nearly broke down but the Scouse lad managed to prod the ball to Leon Best who turned inside one defender and fired the ball into the far corner of the net. It was an exquisite goal.
Half-time: Newcastle 1-0 QPR
The second half started in much the same way as the first as the visitors went in search of an equaliser. Shaun Wright-Phillips tested Tim Krul again but his effort was easily saved by the Dutchman. Jay Bothroyd also went close but Krul was more than a match for his powerful shot.
The game sort of died in the second half and was filled with nearly moments rather than near misses. Davide Santon did well on the left and found his way into the box only to see his shot blocked by Luke Young but aside from that goalmouth action was at a premium for both sides. Newcastle looked solid and assured defensively and poked and prodded away in attack with Ben Arfa and Best looking the most likely to create something although neither side was able to add to the 1-0 scoreline.
Full-time: Newcastle 1-0 QPR
Not one for the purists, but it was never going to be easy. The QPR players showed Mark Hughes what they were all about and were playing for their first team futures and that showed at the start. Still, it’s three points and sixth in the table which will do me just fine!
Howay the lads.
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor, Danny Guthrie, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best, Shola Ameobi
Subs: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, James Perch, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa
QPR: Paddy Kenny; Luke Young, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill; Shaun Wright-Phillips, Shaun Derry, Akos Buzsaky, Jamie Mackie; Heidar Helguson, Jay Bothroyd
Subs: Radek Cerny, Bradley Orr, Fitz Hall, Hogan Ephraim, Tommy Smith, DJ Campbell, Federico Macheda