YES! A massive win in yet another relegation six-pointer and one that was thoroughly deserved. The 1-0 scoreline flatters Huddersfield, but I couldn’t care less in the end. It’s a huge three points and yet another win at St James’ Park, putting us in touching distance of Premier League survival.
Huddersfield approach shocked me, but as much as they were poor, we were good. We did everything but put the ball in the net in the first half. I was chatting to someone at half-time and counted 5 or 6 clear goalscoring opportunities that we squandered, with Dwight Gayle being the main culprit (he could’ve had a hat-trick today).
I fully expected them to get in our faces, go for the win, unsettle our centre-backs and try to mark Shelvey out of the game, but they couldn’t have been more negative if they tried and did none of that. I’m just glad we eventually got the goal our general play deserved, as a 0-0 draw would’ve been hard to bare given the first half alone.
HUGE result… pic.twitter.com/n4MfEOBNEo
— Total:NUFC (@Total_NUFC) March 31, 2018
They didn’t have a shot on target all game and we had 63% of the ball – our highest share of the ball all season. That says it all.
The win puts us up to 12th and 7 points clear of Southampton in 17th (who got hammered at West Ham today) and 8 clear of Stoke (practically 9 with goal difference), who play Arsenal at the Emirates tomorrow.
- Perez gets plenty stick but he deserved his goal today – he worked his socks off and was a constant thorn in their side.
- Another outstanding display from Diame, whose partnership with Shelvey continues to thrive. Diame was particularly impressive though – I genuinely don’t think he put a foot wrong for the entire first-half.
- Slimani looked lively during his 15-minute cameo. Made runs short and in behind, put himself about and looked pretty mobile given his two-month absence. Got a good ovation and made a positive contribution. Good to see!
- Dummett solid as a rock again. Lascelles and Lejeune tried to be a bit too clever at times and it nearly cost us late on, but overall it was another steady defensive display (despite them throwing so little at us). Yedlin my only concern – he isn’t really a footballer and always has a defensive lapse in him (even though he has progressed under Rafa).
- Gayle spurning three or four clear cut chances is a worry, but Slimani’s return is a timely one and takes the pressure off his shoulders. That being said, he won’t be able to play against parent club Leicester next weekend.
- Dubravka barely had a save to make, but it marks his THIRD straight clean sheet in three appearances at St James’ Park.
Overall a great day for NUFC. We’ve come out on top in yet another relegation six-pointer and results elsewhere couldn’t have gone much better at the bottom.
Up to 12th, 7 points clear of safety (with a vastly superior goal difference), hitting form at the right time at home and looking anything but a team that’ll be in the drop zone come 5pm on May 13th.