Another huge result for Newcastle United, as early goals from Ryan Fraser and Fabian Schar were enough to hand us our first EVER Premier League victory over Brighton!
Our FIFTH win in our last six games and one that sends us seven points clear of the relegation zone on a day that feels like another massive step towards survival.
It wasn’t always pretty and we rode our luck at times, with Brighton having more possession (68%), more shots (15) and more corners (7), however we hung on with the sort of dogged second half display that just never looked likely under the previous manager.
Fraser was energetic as ever, adding a goal and an assist to his efforts, Burn a man mountain against his former side, Schar influential at both ends for the second weekend running and Joelinton typically monstrous in midfield.
Targett also deserves credit for another faultless display that saw him deal with the dangerous Tariq Lamptey, while a surprise pat on the back must go to Emil Krafth – the much maligned Swede who gave everything for the cause at right-back after a nervy start.
We made things hard for ourselves at times and missed a few chances to put it to bed – Murphy could’ve made it 3-0 before the break – but it was a win worthy of the fantastic pre-match displays put on by Wor Flags and our first victory of the season against a top half side!
STARTING 11: Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett – Shelvey, Willock, Joelinton – Fraser, Wood, Murphy.
SUBS: Darlow, Dummett, Lascelles, Manquillo, Longstaff, Guimaraes Almiron, Gayle, Saint-Maximin.
The visitors made a bright start and had us pinned back in our own half in the early stages.
We were struggling to string more than a few passes together, couldn’t get out or get to grips with Potter’s formation – yet the game took a huge twist in our favour just one counter-attack later.
After a clever ball from Wood put Murphy clean through, the winger beat Cucurella for pace and thought he’d dinked it past Sanchez. To his dismay, it came back off the post, but to Fraser’s delight it rebounded perfectly for the Scot to tap in! 1-0 Newcastle.
Just two minutes later, Murphy won a free kick down the right and Fraser whipped a brilliant ball into the box. Schar climbed highest and powered his near post header past Sanchez to make it 2-0!
It was hard to fathom how on earth we were two up in a game Brighton had utterly dominated to this point, but we’d taken our chances emphatically against a Seagulls side who arrived low on confidence after three straight defeats.
St James’ Park was alive with noise and a picture of positivity at this point. The sun was shining – despite it being surprisingly cold inside the stadium – we were winning again and it felt clear this was a side on the up; not one in danger of going down.
We still had plenty of defending to do, as this one clearly wasn’t over, and it was Dan Burn who made one sensational block to deny Gross from six-yards out just minutes before the break.
Welbeck was also a handful and almost got in down the right, but had his shot stopped by Dubravka after breaking free from Krafth and Schar. It felt vital that we got in two goals up – as the final 45 minutes would provr!
It was back against the wall over the vast majority of the second half as they out of the traps quickly. That said, for all their possession, they weren’t actually creating a great deal.
However, after 10 minutes of building pressure, Brighton found a way back into the game as Lewis Dunk got clear of his marker and headed past Dubravka; who ended up in no mans land and should’ve done better despite a lack of protection on this occasion.
Brighton kept knocking in the door, forcing corners and constantly getting the ball wide to get at our full-backs, but Schar and Burn stood tall and we never stopped running in midfield; despite struggling for possession or any sort of control in the second half.
The final whistle was met by huge cheers and more than just a sense of relief, with that being replaced by belief and pride in a Newcastle Untied side who are now doing the fundamentals so well under Eddie Howe.
Elsewhere today, we’ve seen Leeds lose once again, as new boss Jesse Marsch lost 1-0 in the early kick off at Leicester. Chelsea also did us a favour, winning 4-0 at Burnley, while Brentford secured a massive three points at Norwich via a hat-trick from Ivan Toney.
Next up for the Toon, a trip to Southampton next Thursday – which suddenly looks like one we can attack after they were battered 4-0 at Aston Villa earlier today!
I could get used to this winning malarkey…