December 3, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
Well, they weren’t all that were they?
I’m kidding, of course. I don’t think I’ve seen such a display from a team with 9 men.
Did we ride our luck somewhat? You bet we did.
Is it about time things went our way on the pitch for a change? You bet it is!
Social Media seems to be rife with irate Newcastle fans bemoaning their misfortune. We even had Alan Shearer taking to Twitter saying how well we did with 12 men. Then Karl Henry – a QPR player – has to stick his two-penneth in, calling our Henry a con artist for getting him sent off during our bonfire night fixture and the 2 Newcastle players in this game.
Sour grapes. That’s modern football, my friends. Whether you like it or not.
If you’d asked me before the game, I’d have been happy with a draw. Newcastle are no mugs. They’re top of the table for a reason, and not just because they’ve got the money to pump into a push for immediate promotion back to the promised land.
I thought we started fairly well. Contained them to a degree, but goodness me have they got some pace. Dwight Gale in particular. I didn’t think Eric started too well on the left – in for Danny Fox, while Matty Cash found himself as our makeshift right-sided wing-back.
These injuries are now starting to pull us around into all sorts of unfamiliar roles. Joe Worrall was unlucky to pick up a head injury in training and sustain a mild concussion. Which meant Michael Mancienne had to vacate the right wing-back berth, given to him against Barnsley, for a more familiar centre half role. Hence Cash on the right, as Pereira was still suspended, and a shuffle across for Eric.
The rest of the central triumvirate was made up of Mills and Perquis. Lam and Kasami were given the deep-lying roles while Benny and our Henri took up positions towards the flanks (kind of/ not really?) behind our lone striker in the form of the Lord himself, Nicklas Bendtner.
He’s not the most dynamic of lone strikers, but he does hold the ball up well. There’s the yin and yang I suppose. Bendtner gives us very little pace, but a good eye for the game and great hold-up play to bring others in. Vellios does (usually) put a shift in, and while he can also bring players into the game, his first touch isn’t always reliable. If you asked me who I’d pick, I’d go with Vellios to be fair. He’s already got 6 goals for us this season.
Anyway, back to the game.
And I thought the Barnsley game was bonkers!
It’s different when you’re actually at a game, rather than watching on TV. I know that sounds very obvious, but recollecting it from a single viewpoint, rather than the numerous camera angles afforded viewers these days can skew your perspective somewhat. Oh, yes…and no replays. Yes, I know they show them on the big screens, but I’m too busy watching the pitch to notice that sort of stuff.
So, a tangle of legs just inside the box; our Henri on the floor; Shelvey kicking out at our captain and the ground goes bonkers! Straight red for the Newcastle man and Lansbury’s won a penalty as well.
Let’s be honest here. It seems to me the initial tangle was 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. But Shelvey allowed himself to be wound up and paid the price. Penalty? That’s a 50/50 call, but the ref had already allowed himself to be conned into giving brainless decisions before this incident, so players aren’t stupid. They’ll give it a go to see what happens.
Of course, no-one could have foreseen what would happen after that. The Lord decides it’s time to get on the score sheet and hands Darlow a bit of saving practice. A dreadfully poor penalty saved by the Nigel Doughty Academy graduate. Not sure why Henri didn’t take it, but there you go.
Parity in a match that was on a knife-edge, with the visitors still looking dangerous with 10 men. And so it was, with none other than Jamaal Lascelles finding the back of the net. Fortunately for us, it was disallowed for a foul on a Forest defender and the match continued in all its breathless glory.
It was only a matter of time before Newcastle would break the deadlock. That they did so on 45 minutes felt like a hammer-blow. Please don’t ask me to describe it, I can’t really remember that. There was a good reaction from the boys in Garibaldi though as we found ourselves attacking the Newcastle goal in the last gasp of the half.
And then our Henri finds himself on the floor once again, this time denied a goalscoring opportunity by Paul Dummett. Yet another red card. Yet another penalty.
“Well Henri’s going to lash this one straight down the middle and restore order,” I thought.
Nah! He tries for the left side of goal this time, but Darlow guesses correctly and makes a fine save.
What. Was. Going. On?!?
Were we to be denied by a former servant of the club, who’s done nothing wrong other than be sold by a clueless owner?
Changes needed to be made to exploit the space created by the 2 red cards. And so it was that Britt appeared on the touch-line for the second half.
It was, in all honesty, a bit of a toil. That’s not to say we were poor. The toil was created by a team determined to hold onto something when reduced to 9 men. Patience was the key, and I’m a patient man.
They weren’t classic goals by any means – a goalmouth scramble for the first and a “Who got the last touch?” for the second. It was pleasing to see The Lord get on the score sheet after his penalty miss and disappointing to see the reaction to Lascelles bagging an own goal to decide the match. Whatever you may think of Darlow and Lascelles, they’re products of a thriving Academy. They didn’t ask to be sold by the club who nurtured them.
The overriding positive to take from this win was…we got there. Against a well-organised team with Premier League players and a pot of money deeper than the Mariana Trench.
No “works in progress” this week. We are, at the moment, who we are. That Kasami still makes the starting 11 remains a mystery – some like him, I’m still not convinced. But we did a job. Would we have been battered had Newcastle managed to keep 11 on the pitch? We’ll never know. But what we do know is, that maybe, just maybe, our fortunes are turning. Our determination has not wavered these past 3 games. There is a desire to succeed which has seen us through.
Football genuinely is a “funny old game” and who would have thought after the Cardiff, Reading and QPR games we would be in this position. Three wins in a row and a trip to them up the road to finish our 4 match stint on Sky. Traditionally we don’t do ourselves any favours on the telly box. But By Jove have we given the viewers value for money in these last 3 games.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!