Newcastle United ended a four-game losing streak and ran out comfortable winners last night, beating Wigan Athletic 3-0 thanks to two goals from Demba Ba and a first even senior goal for Gael Bigirimana.
Whilst the victory was comfortable in the end it is well worth pointing out that I personally don’t feel things would have been as straight-forward had Maynor Figueroa not received his marching orders after giving away a penalty in the 13th minute, a penalty which Demba Ba duly converted at the Gallowgate end beating Ali Al-Habsi even though the Omani goalkeeper, one of the best in the league in my view, guessed the right way.
Prior to that Wigan started off the better of the two teams and put the home side under pressure from the start. Franco Di Santo forced a fine save from Tim Krul but events in the 13th minute, with Demba Ba playing in Papiss Cisse who came together with Figueroa for the award of the penalty, severely hampered Wigan’s chances.
An unlucky 13th minute for Wigan perhaps, but it was game over just eight minutes later when Davide Santon embarked on what are fast becoming one of his trademark runs forward. He burst down the left before cutting in onto his right foot and shooting at goal only for Al-Habsi to parry his shot straight to the feet of Demba Ba who had the simple task of knocking the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the evening.
The home side controlled the remaining 20 minutes of the first-half with Wigan looking increasingly frustrated and even more likely to lose another man after a couple of unfair tackles from former Magpie Gary Caldwell, Having said that Cheik Tiote was also doing what he does best and launched a few tackles of his own. With the Wigan skipper already on a yellow and with Tiote one booking away from suspension both were withdrawn at half-time.
Half-time: Newcastle 2-0 Wigan
The away side once again started the brighter of the two in the second period despite the numerical disadvantage, but despite all of their pressure they were unable to fins an unlikely way back into the game.
Davide Santon was next to join our injury list limping off five minutes into the second period to be replaced by Shane Ferguson. Santon has been an ever-present in the league for us this season and has been showing some steady form so it would be a shame if he was to be sidelined for any amount of time.
Chances at goal were hard to come by as the hosts seemed comfortable with the 2-0 lead they had. Papiss had a couple of efforts at goal although none threatened and it was left to Cheik Tiote’s half-time replacement to put the icing on the cake with a first senior career goal.
Former Coventry City midfielder Gael Bigirimana cut in from the right and unleashed a curling left-footed shot into the top corner of Ali Al-Habsi’s net. A cracking first goal for a youngster who has impressed when called upon both domestically and in Europe.
From then on the game pretty much petered out. Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse combined to mess up a chance when they were pretty much through on goal with Demba Ba suffering injury as a result ensuring both sides finished the match with ten men although it would appear that Ba’s withdrawal was more precautionary rather than an indication of a full-blown injury.
In the end it was a comfortable victory which is just what the doctor ordered after the run we’ve been on.
Full-time: Newcastle 3-0
There were a number of positives last night which should boost confidence. Vurnon Anita had his best game for the club in my opinion and Davide Santon looked assured before coming off with injury. We passed the ball around a bit and cause problems and Papiss Cisse, even without a goal, showing improved work-rate.
However I don’t want to p*ss on any chips and the win was very welcome but…. We still have a tough run of fixtures coming up. Take Bordeaux on Thursday out of it and our fixtures are still tricky. We play away at Fulham next Monday before Manchester City come to St James’ Park followed by QPR a week later. Then on Boxing Day we travel to Manchester United before visiting Arsenal just a few days later. Not easy by any stretch.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon; Cheik Tiote, Vurnon Anita; Papiss Cisse, Sylvain Marveaux, Jonas Gutierrez; Demba Ba
Subs: Steve Harper, James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Gael Bigirimana, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi, Nile Ranger
Wigan: Ali Al-Habsi, Maynor Figueroa, Gary Caldwell, Emerson Boyce, Ronnie Stam, James McCarthy, David Jones, Jordi Gomez, Jean Beausejour, Franco Di Santo, Aroune Kone,
Subs: Mike Pollitt, Romain Golobart, Adrian Lopez, Fraser Fyvie, James McArthur, Mauro Boselli, Callum McManaman
Attendance: 43,858 – Lowest for a league game at St James’ Park since 28th August 2011.