What a huge huge win. Prior to kick off we found ourselves in the relegation zone after some unideal results this weekend, but 2 hours later there was an overwhelming feeling of relief, hope and euphoria around a revitalised St James’ Park.
After months of frustration and failure to hold onto leads at St James’ Park, this is the big scalp and the breakthrough for Benitez and the boys – and boy did we deserve it. The outpour of relief around the ground and the significance of this can not be understated:
— Black&WhiteBarmy (@BlackWhiteBarmy) February 11, 2018
I was overcome with emotion when that full time whist was blown. This one felt felt so important and you could see how much it meant to all involved.
It was an incredible team performance, with every single player on that pitch doing their bit. Dubravka’s dream debut, an inspired back four who gave everything to protect our lead, a midfield battle won against all odds and some tireless running from our forwards.
Three points are the biggest thing we’ll take from this one, but it was a game full of colossal performances. New-boy Martin Dubravka was outstanding in everything he did, Diame continued his incredible form as our new midfield enforcer, Lascelles and Lejeune looked like a brick wall at the back, Shelvey put in perhaps is most disciplined and controlled performance in a Newcastle United shirt and Matt Ritchie got on the scoresheet for the first time this season.
It’s the big win we so desperately needed. We’ve been waiting for a moment like this.
Recent home performances against Swansea and Burnley have shown signs of improvements, but 1-1 draws in both left us with bitter tastes in our mouths. Our winless run at St James’ Park was becoming more worrying by the week (made worse by signs of resurgence from sides around us in the table) but this win shatters our unwanted record and sends us into the final 11 games with a new lease of life.
Our form against the top sides this season had been hopeless, but this installs so much belief into the side. A lot of people feared that we’d have to pull a rabbit out of the hat if we were going to beat the drop and we’ve done exactly that.
There’s a long way to go, with home games against Southampton, West Brom and Huddersfield likely to be the biggest test of our ability to beat the drop, but this win really could do wonders for our confidence going into those.
It’s all about momentum at this stage of the season and it finally feels like we’ve created some. St James’ Park was at its best today and the level of fight and determination within our side was not that of a team who was about to be relegated.
Performance levels went up a notch and that bodes well for the 11 cup finals that are still to come between now and the end of the season. If we can continue to show that level of commitment and se this as a spring-board for our home games to come, then I have complete faith in our ability to beat the drop – especially if Islam Slimani can make the impact Kenedy and Dubravka have done so far.