As games though, I think it’s fair to say that this one won’t be filed in the ‘classics’ archive.
In fact for that bulk of the match everything was finely poised, with the hosts even looking like conceding a goal, until Hatem Ben Arfa produced a moment of magic to tip the balance in favour of the home side.
We’ve now won five games on the spin at just the right time of the season. We now sit level on points with 4th placed Tottenham Hotspur and three points ahead of 6th placed Chelsea, who have a chance to knock us back down to 6th by virtue of goal difference this evening as long as they beat Fulham at Craven Cottage. Should that happen there will be three teams sitting on 59 points and aiming for a Champions League place.
I’d like to say that we won the match with style, but I’d be lying if I did. Instead the game was settled with two moments of real quality, which we’ve been conditioned to believe over the years is a sign of a good team.
Most of the action was reserved for the second half, with returning skipper Fabricio Coloccini proving to be the source of any attacking play of note during the first period – his ball which Demba Ba miscontrolled on the edge of the area was one highlight, with a shot from fully 30 yards being the other.
However the second half sprang to life after a flat and drab first 45 minutes, but it was Bolton who could, and probably should, have drew first blood in the contest of attrition. First there was Chris Eagles, who fired straight at Tim Krul from ten yards after working his way into the penalty area. Then there was Mark Davies, who completely missed his shot from six yards out allowing Tim Krul the time to readjust himself for Davies’ weak second attempt.
With 17 minutes of the game remaining the course of the game changed thanks to a moment of sheer inspiration, and another Goal of the Season contender from Hatem Ben Arfa. Receiving the ball in his own half, Ben Arfa flicked the ball round Mark Davies before spinning round the other way to collect his own flick on. He then charged into the Bolton half beating three defenders with ease before nonchalantly sliding the ball past the Bolton goalkeeper. It really was a magical moment that deserved to change any game.
However gloss was added to the victory ten minutes later when substitute Shola Ameobi – on for the disappointing and rather petulant Demba Ba sent an inch perfect cross which Papiss Cisse converted from six yards out. That’s ten goals in nine games for the new number nine.
From then on the game petered out. It was job done for Newcastle whilst Bolton will have been left feeling that they could have got something out of the game had they managed to convert some of their earlier chances.
Next up we have Stoke at home, but before that we have a 12 day rest. Judging by the flatness of the performance and general lethargy of some of our players today, it is a break that is needed and should ensure that our batteries are sufficiently charged for the final five games of the season.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye, James Perch, Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba
Subs: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, James Tavernier, Ryan Taylor, Mehdi Abeid, Dan Gosling, Shola Ameobi
Bolton: Adam Bogdan, Gretar Steinsson, David Wheater, Tim Ream, Sam Ricketts, Chris Eagles, Mark Davies, Darren Pratley, Nigel Reo-Coker, Martin Petrov, Kevin Davies
Subs: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Mikel Alonso, Zat Knight, Ivan Klasnic, David Ngog, Marvin Sordell, Ryo Miyachi
NUFC Blog Man of the Match: Hatem Ben Arfa – Not just for his goal, but for his workrate and willingness to try and make something happen.