Spurs 1-2 Newcastle United
It’s a funny old game!
A week ago I was travelling to St James Park with my two sons discussing the prospect of having to play an in form Liverpool side who’d just smashed Southampton, then a Spurs side that were unbeaten since week 1 of the season. That, coupled with results down the road turning dramatically in their favour and a new man at the helm of Villa made the prospect of the next few weeks pretty grim.
Fast forward to this evening and the footballing world seems a very different place. And whilst the fortunes of our club changed significantly (at least for the short term) you only need pick out the performances of one of two players to demonstrate where things have gone right.
Take Moussa Sissoko as the example. Those who, in diminishing numbers of late, sat in St James Park to watch a lazy, inept and disinterested ‘star’ walk through recent games as time after time players ran past him with the desire and fight of a team playing like their futures depended on it could only wonder
where the fight would come from. As the banner says ‘we don’t demand a team that win, we demand a club that tries’. The fight it seemed had long gone. What followed at Palace only served to reinforce the view that only radical change in January could save us, and with Newcastle’s transfer policy of late and with money already spent pre season, that prospect looked remote.
So what changed between then and Liverpool. Cancelled ‘days off’, yes. Frank discussions at the training ground, of course. Mitrovic and Perez even dropped (although many thought there should have been others in the cue first).
Maybe it was the management team that put some fire under Sissoko. Maybe it was the thought of playing against Liverpool broadcast worldwide to a TV public of millions. Maybe we’ll never know. What ever it was, it worked. Against Liverpool Sissoko’s slide tackle after running 20 yards back towards his own goal in the second half was something neither him, nor many in the black and white of NUFC had done much of all season. For now, I’m going to give some credit to McClaren.
Today was the same. Maybe the first half wasn’t the best, but in the second, as Spurs pushed forward to try and kill the game after Dier had given the hosts the lead in the 38th minute, the lads seemed to relax and perhaps remember what they’d been working on all week.
Elliot, Janmaat, Colo, Mbemba, Dummett, Colback, Anita (Gouf), Sissoko, Wijnaldum, deJong (Perez), Cisse (Mitro)
The fight and determination that had been seen from every one of Newcastle’s players in the second half was there to see in Elliot from the start. Like Tim Krul a couple of seasons back, Rob had done his bit to keep the Toon in the game. A string of good saves, the best a reaction to push Erik Lamela’s volley over the bar, would prove critical.
The hosts could have been more than one up at the break but what ever was said at half time seemed to do the trick. As the second half wore on it was evident that Newcastle were growing in confidence, even if they did seem to lack a cutting edge.
That would change just after 60mins as first Perez, then ten minutes later Mitrovic would enter the fray.
Within 2 minutes of the big man being on the pitch Newcastle were awarded a free kick on the right after a whipped cross hit the outstretched arm of ex Mackem fullback Rose. The consequential kick was taken by Colback and appeared to have been overhit only for Colo (who’d been at fault for leaving Dier for the Spurs goal) to nod the ball back into he 6 yard box. A stooping header from Mbemba resulted in a scramble on the goal line before Mitrovic stabbed the ball home.
What followed was perhaps more pleasing. Instead of sitting with 11 men behind the ball and hoping to take a point back North, Newcastle then hit Spurs continually on the break. Indeed on a couple of occasions could have nicked a second as first Perez and then Mitrovic seemed to have wasted our best chance of taking all three points.
Then, with over 92 of the allotted 94 minutes on the clock the moment the travelling black and white hordes had been praying for. A lobbed pass from Wijnaldum, a flick from Mitrovic, and a majestic chest down and hit from Perez from a seemingly impossible angle did the job.
With no time on the clock for Spurs to come back it was game over. 6 points in two seemingly impossible games and Newcastle are out of the bottom three.
Now what we don’t need to do is waste all the good work against Villa next weekend,
Man Of the Match: Elliot probably, possibly Mitrovic for his impact. Take your pick.