Top versus second and not the way we’d wanted it before kick off as Newcastle United travelled to Brighton tonight in a critical promotion contest.
And Raf would make a huge call before the game choosing to start Gouffran up top in place of an out of form Mitrovic.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Atsu, Shelvey, Colback (Murphy, 75), Ritchie, Diame, Gouffran (Perez, 80)
The early stages would seem more like a chess match, perhaps understandably, given what was at stake for both teams. With the best of the early exchanges being a cracking effort from Brighton full-back Bruno, who’s 25 yard effort would sting the palms of Darlow in the Newcastle goal.
After 13 minutes….disaster. Clark would be adjudged to have taken down Murray in the box. Soft at best. But the striker would pick himself up to send Darlow the wrong way to make it 1-0 to the home side.
And there would be more from the home side as they pushed forward for a second.
Newcastle would offer little in the first half in terms of attacking threat although would at least get a foothold in the game although they could have been further behind but for a clearance off the line from Dummett after Darlow was caught in no mans land following a Brighton cross.
Second half and Newcastle would fly out of the blocks and should have been back on level terms on the hour mark when Stockade would only manage to pass the ball straight to Gouffran on the edge of the box. With only the keeper to beat the makeshift striker would only manage a tame effort back into the keepers hands. A glorious chance missed.
On 77 minutes sub Murphy would see a great header saved from a Ritchie corner. Finding himself totally unmarked in the box he couldn’t have done much more but his nod towards goal would be a decent height for the keeper.
By now the game was getting stretched but with under 10 minutes left it seemed only a stroke of good luck or a moment of brilliance would save Newcastle from defeat. It would be the former.
After a poor clearance from a corner by Stockade the ball would fall to Astu. His spectacularly horrendous attempt, now heading 20 yards wide, would somehow bounce off Diame’s foot, with the Newcastle player looking in the opposite direction, only to find its way somehow bouncing into the top right hand corner of the Brighton net. Probably THE most bizarre goal you’ll ever see.
With most fans, perhaps on both sides just hoping to hear the final whistle there would be time to one final twist.
What a ball from Ritchie. What a take and cross from Atsu. What a finish from Perez.
88 minutes. GAME OVER! Deserved.
Newcastle had not won a game after going behind in 11 games.
Brighton had won 22 games in a row after going ahead.
Courage. Passion. BOOM!