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Newcastle United 3-1 Nottingham Forest

A brace from Dwight Gayle ensured the three points stayed on Tyneside last night and that Newcastle United will finish 2016 at the top of the Championship.

With the backdrop of that infamous game at the City Ground, it felt like a case of ’out for revenge’ for NUFC as they went into the game with that sense of injustice still fresh in the minds of all at the club.

STARTING XI: Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Lazaar, 83), Colback (Diame, 67), Hayden, Atsu, Perez, Gayle (Mitrovic, 88)

Newcastle would get off to the best possible start when after only 4 minutes Matt Ritchie would see his 35 yard free kick take a huge deflection, completely wrong footing the Stojkovic in the Forest goal, and ending up nestled in the bottom left corner to make it 1-0.

You’d have thought this would settle any pre match nerves, especially after such an abject display against Sheffield Wednesday, but in truth the home side would make this much harder work that needs be.

With Forest firmly in the game they would draw level before half time with Dumitru firing home after poor work from the Newcastle back line and with worries of another home game with drop points now firmly a possibility.

Whatever was said at half time seemed to stir the Magpies into life, although it would take another controversial moment in the match up of these two teams for this one to swing Newcastle’s way.

Having already been booked for a foul on Perez, Matt Mills was then almost immediately shows a second yellow for his reaction to the first. Whilst no one at Newcastle United was going to complain about the decision, especially after the farce of a performance by the referee in the reverse fixture, this was yet another astonishing lack of consistency from officials in this division.

With Newcastle already bossing the second half it would only take another 3 minutes for Gayle to get his first of the game and put the home side back in front. A long ball from the back pumped forward from Clark would only be headed into Gayle’s path by the Forest back line allowing our number 9 to fire in from an almost impossible angle.

That goal was timed at 63 minutes and Newcastle’s third and final goal of the game would come 17 minutes later when a deflected cross from Ritchie would fall into the path of Gayle once more. This time his chest down would be enough to see the ball in the net as with the keeper anticipating Gayle to strike the ball home our lad missed the ball altogether sending the keeper sprawling the wrong way again.

The win was enough to see Newcastle go top again by a point, although Brighton have yet to play their 24th game of the season and Reading had theirs called off earlier in the day due to fog. Even though Newcastle can be caught at the top by Brighton we’ll take top spot at New Year thank you!

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