Another day, another huge game for Newcastle United in the race for a place in the Premier League.
Ahead of the game Rafa would welcome back Anita to the first eleven and there would be a starting place for Atsu and Murphy too. Dwight Gayle would only be deemed fit enough to make the bench.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Colback (Gouffran, 72), Ritchie, Diame, Atsu (Yedlin, 81), Murphy (Gayle, 66)
Rafa knew before this one that playing Huddersfield at their own game was never going to be an option. This season United have averaged well over 50% home and away, so to set up a team that could complete with less than 25% of the game would take all his talent. The players of course, such is the confidence in their boss, would seem to be capable of walking through walls for him right now. The confidence and unwavering determination of the team during the match would be there for all to see even with such long spells without the ball.
Huddersfield came into the match in fantastic form, their swashbuckling style leading them to six wins and a draw in their 7 games preceding this one. Their attacking, fluid style of play, with attacking full backs and bags of creativity has won them much plaudit as they’ve closed the gaps week on week to the top two.
This game, by their own managers admission, would be their toughest test of the season.
It was Newcastle though who’d look the more dangerous in the early stages inspire of all the possession the Terriers would enjoy.
And when the referee pointed to the spot after Ritchie was felled in the box by Nakhi Wells the Scotsman would pick himself to cooly slot home after just 10 minutes to send the travelling Toon Army into raptures. For Rafa and his men being 1-0 up was perfect as they could allow Huddersfield to push on and hit them on the break.
And when Shelvey played a wonderful ball through to Murphy who’d convert to make it 2-0 when the chance had looked like it would be missed after a heavy first tough it seemed like game over.
Newcastle’s defence had looked imperious, as it should as now the leagues best, and it would take a penalty for the home side for them to find a way through. The decision looked soft following a foul by Shelvey, but in fairness, if ours was a spot kick so was theirs. Aaron Mooy, who’d impressed throughout converted to make it 2-1.
But with Huddersfield now pushing everyone forward, including the subbed-in keeper Coleman, there would be one final goal in the game. A long clearance from a corner would see the repeating keeper only managed to head the ball backwards in a comical moment on 91 minutes leaving sub Dwight Gayle to run free and tap home with no Huddersfield players left back to defend.
3-1 the result then and a huge win that leaved Newcastle 5 points clear of Brighton on second and 11 points clear of Huddersfield. A HUGE 3 points.