Newcastle’s games have been fun to watch this season, whether you are live streaming on Ladbrokes or elsewhere online, and today’s game was a perfect example of it.
A much-improved second half performance, a solid defensive display and another St James’ Park brace from Callum Wilson helped us to a well deserved 2-1 win over Everton today!
A depleted yet high-flying Toffees side created a nervy final five minutes via a late goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, however we come away worthy winners in the end – and it’s not often we’ve been able to say that under Steve Bruce!
He deserves credit today for getting it right and setting us up well, with the victory moving us 10 points clear of the drop zone, just two points from 2nd and into the top 10.
Steve Bruce stuck with a 5-3-1-1 and named only one change from the side that excruciatingly scrapped for a point against Wolves a week ago.
Sean Longstaff replaced Ryan Fraser as part of a three-man midfield featuring himself, Hendrick and Almiron, with ASM in a free role and Wilson up top.
Jamaal Lascelles passed a late fitness test to continue at the heart of our five-man defence, while Jacob Murphy started for the second Premier League game in a row – again in his new role as an attacking wing-back.
As we knew they would, Everton fielded a weekend team with Rodriguez, Digne, Coleman and Richarlison all out, while out of form Jordan Pickford was dropped to the bench after a string of poor performances.
All things considered, I was feeling pretty optimistic ahead of kick-off!
It was a cagey opening to the game with neither team looking as if they were in any sort of rhythm. We had some decent spells of possession, but our attacking play was laboured in what was a slow and uneventful start to proceedings.
We attempted to play out from the back in the opening exchanges and a few bits of dodgy distribution from Karl Darlow could’ve cost us if it wasn’t for Everton’s inability to pounce on his mistake or a strong challenge or two from Federico Fernandez.
We then opted to go back to a long-ball approach as our midfield struggled to find ASM – which predictably failed as it meant that Callum Wilson was forced to feed off scraps against two big centre-backs.
To my surprise, a brilliant piece of attacking football and the moment of the first half presented us with a chance that we really should’ve given us the lead on the half hour mark.
Miguel Almiron got the ball in his own half and drove down the left-hand side, bursting past Andre Gomes and Allan before playing in Callum Wilson down the left. He then burst inside and slid an inch perfect ball into the path of Allan Saint-Maximin who had the goal at his mercy with only the keeper to beat. Unfortunately, his tame effort was comfortably saved by Olsen and the moment of the half soon passed us by.
The half-time whistle blew and we went into the break 0-0. A solid defensive display, but one brilliant counter-attack side it was tough to watch and pretty flat. Fortunately, Everton were just as bad and the game was still there for the taking.
On a slightly more positive note, I was impressed by three individual performances. Miguel Almiron was a nuisance at both ends, Callum Wilson looked lively and full of energy (despite his lack of service) and Fernandez came up trumps with a string of important blocks and tackles.
The second-half started slowly, but the game exploded into life – at least in an attacking sense – in the 54th minute.
We won a corner which Callum Wilson got on the end of ahead of Andre Gomes – who was really slow to react. The Portuguese midfielder left in a trailing leg which brought down Wilson, and the referee awarded us with a penalty!
Wilson was made to wait for what felt like an age due to a VAR check, but he once again exerted nerves of steel as he calmly slotted the ball into the net past the helpless Olsen. 1-0!
It could’ve been two just moments after. Some brilliant play between Murphy and Wilson resulted in Sean Longstaff getting the ball no more than 10 yards out from goal. He then struck a fierce effort at goal and I was left scratching my head after it was astoundingly saved by Olsen.
Longstaff really deserved a goal this afternoon. He seemed sharp, covered ground well, his passing was crisp and he looked as though he’d got his confidence back!
Everton began to grow into the game and soon after *that* Longstaff chance, Gylfi Sigurdsson whipped a brilliant ball into the box which met the head of the lethal Calvert-Lewin. Luckily, his header was straight at Darlow who easily saved.
Saint-Maximin looked affected by an earlier knock so Bruce chose to replace him with Ryan Fraser – who made an immediate impact.
Jamal Lewis collected the ball in his own half and instantly curled a perfectly weighted ball down the line and around the Everton defence – putting Ryan Fraser in on goal. The Scotsman beat Mina for pace, drove into the box and his deflected cross found Callum Wilson at the back-post, who only had to tap the ball home!
2-0 and that’s already Callum Wilson’s sixth goal in just seven games this season. What did he tell us? Wilson and Fraser = goals!
We looked set to cruise to a comfortable victory, but just after six minutes of added time were signalled, we unforgivably gave Everton the chance to steal a point.
Iwobi drilled the ball across the face of goal towards Calvert-Lewin, who easily drifted in between Lascelles and Fernandez before poking the ball past Darlow. A nervy few minutes remained!
Karl Darlow had a heroic few minutes as the pressure built. He excellently tipped a looping Bernard cross over the bar, and then excellently claimed the final corner of the game to secure the three points!
It wasn’t always pretty, but we defended well, caused problems on the counter and played some decent football in the second half – a nervy end but a brilliant three points in a game that saw this 5-3-1-1 system show signs of real potential after that decent point but drab display at Molineux.
We were solid defensively – looking MUCH better than the side who shipped four to Man Utd a few weeks ago – the wing-backs were really effective at both ends, Federico Fernandez was rock solid, Miguel Almiron a constant livewire and Sean Longstaff much improved in midfield.
Most importantly, however, we’ve finally got a new talisman in Wilson. He’s going to be so important for us throughout this season and is already proving what a brilliant piece of business he’ll be for Bruce. He just always looks like scoring and is a constant pest up top.
Bring on Southampton next Friday!