Last night we saw the first and only home win of the opening set of fixtures in the Premier League. Most of the results were draws with a couple of away wins. The match started off very slowly and let’s face it everyone was waiting to see Sergio Aguero in action for the first time, but he was on the bench. So everyone would have to just wait to see him.
The final home game of the championship season was yesterday afternoon at St James Park. No one really cared about the game, we wanted the trophy at 5pm after the game. Just a shame the game was very dull and we drew 2-2 which kinda took the edge of it all a little, especially the long wait we had for the set up and presentation of the trophy and medals (or at least it felt like a long wait). So I won’t dwell on the match too much and just be happy it was the last home game of championship football and hopefully it will be a long time (if ever) that championship football returns to St James Park!
On Monday night . . . at the furthest possible place . . .we beat Plymouth 2-0 to become champions of the Championship and win the league. We will be presented with the trophy on Saturday after our final Championship home game (hopefully we will not have one for years and years to come) against Ipswich Town.
Goals from Andy Carroll and Wayne Routledge secured the win for the Toon who were dominant throughout the game. This condemned Plymouth to relegation. But did not stop them playing “We are the champions” from us! Along with “Blaydon Races” and “Local Hero”. The Toon Army invaded the pitch to celebrate!
The second last home game of the season saw Blackpool come to St James Park, with a lot of support in the bright orange shirts. Taking at least 3,000 tickets. With a chance of still making the play-offs we were half expecting this to be a slightly more difficult game but in the end that wasn’t meant to be. Again the pressure of playing at St James Park got to the away team who couldn’t really do much.
Three days after the impressive second half against Coventry we were back at St James Park for the visit of Preston. Unfortunately the best player from Wednesday’s game was out injured for this game, Wayne Routledge and boy did we miss him. Danny Guthrie was given the task of playing right midfield and pretty much played everywhere on the park but wide on the right. Which was very frustrating to watch.
We got off to a great start when Lovenkrands scored in the first few minutes which was more a cross than a shot after viewing at half time. He went off injured about 10 minutes into the game and Leon Best came onto replace him. Nothing else really happened in the first half. It was pretty obvious that Preston could not create anything really and were very poor. This also had an effect on the Newcastle team who seemed to drop to their level.
10 minutes into the second half things started to look up when a good move put Kevin Nolan in to score his first goal in quite a lot of games. This would have to silence the critics he has built up quite recently for not getting on the score sheet. However the game pretty much went back to what it was like in the first half with nothing really exciting to report.
All in all it was a poor game and Ryan Taylor is continuing to become a super sub scoring in the 90th minute yesterday. Is he the new secret weapon for the end of a game? Preston were very poor and it had to be on of the worst performances from a team coming to St James Park this season! Leon Best was again very disappointing and I really don’t get the point of him at all. I would much rather see Nile Ranger coming off the bench at least he would make some type of effort.
It was back to St James Park after a disappointing away performance against Swansea on Saturday (which some how we managed to get a point from). We wanted to see a reaction and in the first 30 minutes we did not get that reaction. We dominated the game but did not put the ball into the box enough to create any clear-cut chances. I had literally said something like “we’re going to do something stupid and they will score” well we didn’t pick anyone up in the box and Clinton Morrison managed to score while slipping?!?! and beat Steve Harper from about 8 yards out. This put the visitors 1 up, against the run of play. Now we definitely needed a reaction and we actually got one, Wayne Routledge hit an effort into the bottom corner of the goal a few minutes after Coventry took the lead to make it all square again. We had to even it out as quickly as possible. Half team we went in 1-1.
Just under 10 minutes into the second half Andy Carroll put us in front using his power to get the ball into the back of the net. Which was a big sigh of relief more than anything. We had come from 1 down to be 2-1 up, something that used to happen a lot in the Sir Bobby Robson era but not so much in recent times. I feel this shows good character from the team and determination. We kept attacking and creating chances, I must say that Jonas Gutierrez is starting to become one of the most frustrating players to watch. Yes he can beat a player which is brilliant but he doesn’t know what to do after he beats the player, so either puts in an awful cross or loses the ball. We had to wait until the 70th minute for a chance to add another goal to the tally when Wayne Routledge easily the best player on the pitch was dragged down for a penalty his pace proving too much for the Coventry defence. Which saw Leon Barnett pick up his second yellow card so it was early bath for him. With Leon Best pretty much ready to come for the Toon it was obvious that Lovenkrands would be the player to make way (he was not really in the game very much) but probably knowing this he confidently picked up the ball and placed it on the spot for the penalty and calmly put it in the back of the net to put us 3-1 up.
After scoring the penalty Lovenkrands was on the pitch for 2 minutes before Best came onto replace him. Again Best has done nothing to impress me, surely the fresh legs up front should be chasing everything down? Yes I know we were 3-1 up but surely Best wants to make a good impression? Well so far he hasn’t done anything for me. But the scoring wasn’t done yet, in the 92nd minute Ryan Taylor tried his best to miss an easy chance by hitting it into the Gallowgate end but luckily he managed to hit the back of the net. 4-1 and a lot of people missed the 4th!
After a poor first half display the quality improved in the second half and a very important 3 points on the road to try to win the Championship. Another game at St James Park this week when we entertain Preston North End on Saturday at 3pm. Eventually a 3pm home game, it’s about time! I am sure Andy Carroll will want to score a goal or two against the club he went on loan to but did not feature very much. I am looking forward to Saturday after last night, let’s have 3 more points boys!
All of the pre-game talk was surrounding Geordie Michael Chopra’s return to St James Park (a place he has never scored) after scoring a lot of goals for Cardiff in the Championship this season. But it was another Geordie who has taken all of the headline away from him Andy Carroll.
With having a 5.20pm kick off yesterday and Nottingham Forest already having played and got beat we had the chance to move even further ahead in the push for promotion as we sit top of the championship. With Leicester having Richie Wellens sent off after 30 minutes for two yellow cards it looked like we would have a brilliant chance to take all 3 points as our opponents went down to 10 men.
However as we already know playing against 10 men is often not as easy as it sounds (no idea why but watch any game when a team goes down to 10 men and they always put up a good fight). That being said though playing against 10 men for an hour we really did not capitalise on this. Leicester had the more clear cut and better chances to score however they seem to lack a natural finisher with most of the efforts going straight to Steve Harper. Then again Harper done his best to help them have a chance by throwing the ball straight to the feet of Gallagher who should have scored.
Disappointing to say the least but after so long this game really did have nil-nil written all over it. Neither team ever really looked like scoring. We lack an out and out goalscorer up front. I was impressed with Wayne Routledge who’s singing I was a little dubious about as I thought he was overrated and didnt fill his potential. However I hope he keeps on proving me wrong, as he was our most dangerous player. Leicester couldn’t handle his pace and quick feet. In recent times I have missed a player in a black and white shirt having a bit of pace and wanting to attack down the flanks. So far so good in his signing for me, lets hope he keeps it up.
Patrick Van Aanholt who we signed on Friday on a month long loan from Chelsea was put straight in at left back for the injured Jose Enrique. He looked very comfortable and confident on the ball and had our best chance of scoring. So it looks like he will have a busy month of games with Enrique set to be on the sidelines for 6 weeks.
Mike Williamson also was a plus as looked very solid at the back in a make-shift defence. I missed the game on Wednesday as was working so did not get to see his debut. He rarely put a foot wrong. Hard to believe he has not played for 5 months. Lets hope he can keep up his solid first two appearances.