If a week is a long time in football then imagine what can happen in a month…
That is certainly the case for Newcastle as just a month ago the Magpies were in danger of being cut adrift and rock bottom of the Premier League.
Four games later its a draw and three wins on the spin with Newcastle United up to 13th in the table as they climb above West Ham thanks to an own goal and a lovely flicked header from Clark.
And whilst Burley got one back and huffed and puffed they just couldn’t find a way to get anything out of this one against Rafa’s excellently organised men.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie, Ki, Diame, Kenedy (Hayden, 89), Perez, Rondon (Joselu, 71)
Kick-off for this one was also delayed by 30 minutes after a ‘medical emergency’ involving a member of Burnley support staff.
Looking for a first win against Burnley since 1982, when Waddle and Keegan were amongst the scorers, there was just the one change with Clark coming in for the Dummett and Rondon continuing up front after his brace last time out.
And what a start for Newcastle. Rafa had sprung a surprise in playing a back five with Ritchie playing as the left wing back and with plenty of height with the central three. Who’d have through then that it would be one of those big men who’d make the first telling contribution. An early corner, just three minutes in, would only be partially cleared and when the ball finally round it’s way to Fernandez his rather tame shot would take a wicked deflection off Ben Mee and out of the reach of Hart. 1-0 Newcastle.
What five at the back would of course mean lots of possession for the home side with the extra man in midfield in what was always going to be a difficult evening. Newcastle though well organised and happy to keep the ball when they could with Burley inexplicably sitting off the away side at times, much to the crowds frustration.
Save from a long range effort which moved in the air and hit Dubravka in the face there was no action to talk about of note at either end of the pitch… until…
On 22 minutes Newcastle forced a couple more corners, the second of which was played short to Ritchie who’s cross was met with a wonderful flicked header from Clark and nestled in the bottom corner to Hart’s goal once more. 2-0
Half an hour gone and the workrate from all in black and white continued to be exceptional, working for each other, covering when required in a system that looked very comfortable considering the departure from the norm.
2-0, of course, a dangerous lead as Newcastle fans needn’t have been reminded following the Manchester United loss just a few weeks back.
A short corner again on 35 minutes Newcastle’s next effort but this time a smash from Kenedy didn’t trouble the Burnley keeper.
With Newcastle cruising towards half time they did, as they must, make things hard for themselves. A lump forward from the half way line, a header from Vokes running at the ball and on the 18 yard line looped over Dubravka and into the empty net. Unbelievably 1-2 and a rare moment to question the Newcastle keeper who surely can’t be beaten by a header from there?!
The stopper would redeem himself however with a fantastic save from Wood just before half time.
1-2 then at the break.
On 49 minutes Newcastle, and in particular Matt Ritchie, have a moment to forget. One that may be shown on TV as one of the misses of all time in the Premier League. A mix up at the back allowed Yedlin to rush on the keeper and his toe poke was deflected into the path of Ritchie who, from 2 yards out managed to fire wide. ‘It looked easier to score’ doesn’t even get close to describing this one! Just wow.
Newcastle continued to look the better side in the early stages of the second half. The only worry being if that lack of killer instinct would come back and haunt them before the final whistle. And sure enough Burnley started to turn the screw.
On 72 minutes only a fantastic block from Yedlin would stop Wood from grabbing an equaliser and Burnley started to turn the screw.
With just over ten minutes left Newcastle could, and probably should have burred it, again. This time a great run from Perez lead to Joselu smashing the ball against the upright.
Everyone in black and white now watching this through their fingers.
By the end it was all eleven up front for Burnley, with even Hart going up front for the final corners and free kick.
But Newcastle held on, for what in all fairness was the right result.