Bristol City 0-1 Newcastle United
6 points and 4 days have put Newcastle back on track and within 4 points of top and 2 points of second, all be it after just 4 games.
Important too was that this time the win was away from home, a first since December last year, in what turned out to be a tough match for Rafa’s men.
STARTING XI: Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden (Shelvey, 87), Colback, Gouffran, Diame (Perez, 63), Gayle (Aarons, 88)
Once more it would be Dwight Gayle who would be the difference with the only goal of the game. That’s four for Newcastle’s new number 9 now and this time it was an excellent finish following a long ball assist from another new man Diame who returned to the side after injury.
Bristol City would boss the game in terms of possession and chances in front of goal, although failed to test Sels significantly over the 90 minutes. Once more however Newcastle’s nr 28 did little to build confidence of his team mates and fans alike with what felt like another shaky performance despite the clean sheet.
Pleasing then, as Mitrovic has now served the last game of his four match ban, that Gayle seems to have hit some early season form and is already out on his own as the leagues top scorer. Let’s hope that continues. What will also be interesting to see is whether Rafa plays a front two with the big man back or how he will fit all his attacking options into the team and squad.
For now though he can be pleased that the ex Palace forward is paying back some of that £10m transfer fee. With Hayden already having gone close twice with headers when he should have done better it would be a long ball from Diame that would allow Gayle to sprint clear and smash home with an early finish after 19 minutes.
He could have doubled his tally too but for a post in the second half as he continually looked a handful for Bristol as that little bit of extra class seemed to be the difference for the away side.
After the game you could tell that Rafa was chuffed with his side saying ‘it’s a step forward in confidence of the players’ as he will be acutely aware of his sides dismal away record this year.
Now with a home game against Cheltenham on Tuesday in the cup before what should be a promotion hopefuls clash against Brighton also at home on Saturday next, there is an opportunity for us to push into the next round of the cup and break into the top 6.
Onwards and upwards, we can only hope!!