Newcastle United consolidated their position in fifth place with a hard fought 2-1 victory over Aston Villa yesterday.
The match saw the return of Shay Given to his former club and the game was a mostly scrappy affair but the two Demba’s provided the goods for the Geordie faithful and manager, Alan Pardew.
The last two fixtures have seen the Magpies not at their best but have taken their chances on goal in order to grind out a victory. Against Blackburn, Newcastle found themselves under pressure from Steve Kean’s side but managed to win the match 2-0. The match against Aston Villa was much the same, Pardew’s side never settled into a proper rhythm in the first half and took the lead thanks to superb work by Danny Guthrie and Demba Ba. The goal came against the run of play, Villa had had several chances in front of Newcastle’s net but were thwarted by the superb form of the Dutchman, Tim Krul in between the sticks.
Newcastle looked uneasy at the back, several times both Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini were undone by the pace of Darren Bent but managed to recover well to stop Villa from gaining an equaliser.
Before the stroke of half-time, Newcastle’s hard work was to be undone when Robbie Keane scored for the visitors. The two teams went in level at half-time, there were many times throughout the first half when Villa cold have taken a large advantage into the break but it was not to be for them.
Pardew had obviously had strong words to say to his side during the interval, their had been no signs of the fluidity that had been present in recent matches. The side looked rather disjointed but they attacked the second half with venom.
They were more chances created on goal for the men in black and white but Villa defended resiliently to deny Newcastle the chance to go in front. A moment of magic came on the 71st minute when Papiss Demba Cisse struck a left-footed half volley into the top left corner. It was a brilliant goal to fire Newcastle back into fifth place in the Premier League table.
The last two fixtures have seen Newcastle’s performance been below par than usual but it is testament to Alan Pardew and the players that even though they have been playing below par they have ground out the results in order to keep up with those in the top four. This lack in performance may be down to the fact that two key players: Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye are missing from the fray but it is very encouraging to see that the side have been able to cope without them and gain a vital three points that guarantees Premier League football for next season.
Even when putting in below par performances, Newcastle are still able to gain a victory that may allow the dream of European football returning to St James’ Park to continue.