Half time: Potters 0 Magpies 0
A mis-kick from Charlie Adam within the centre circle allowed Jacob Murphy
to push on, with space opening up ahead of him as he crossed into the
opposition half and Adam made the merest attempt to catch up with him before
Kevin Wimmer was no more interested in blocking the United winger's route to
goal and Murphy swung over a low centre that evaded Geoff Cameron and
reached the unmarked Ayoze Perez, who flicked it right-footed into
the net from six yards via the boot of goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Full time: Potters 0
"We started really well this season then we had a bad run and lost
confidence - but still the team was working hard.
"It is one thing me as a manager saying the players are working and don't
give up, but you could see it today. It was an example of a team working hard.
"Stoke worked so hard and it was
difficult for us.
"We know we are looking for something that can improve the team in
different areas. The players are trying everything and I am pleased with them
but if we can improve our squad we will try to."
On the unexpected Atsu/Perez partnership:
"The understanding was good between both. The rest of the team helped
with good passes and after they defended all together, that was the key.
"We needed to cope with Stoke's
pressure. They put in crosses and we did well.
"We had two or three counter-attacks
that could have finished the game."
BBC Radio 5 correspondent Pat Murphy was at the game and commented
love Rafa Benitez anyway. Their fans are fantastic. They play in front of 50,000
plus at home and Benitez is very, very good with the crowd.
"He is the star, more than any of their
players on their pay roll. Benitez is the man who will keep them up. He got them
up last year, heís a terrific manager. Heís a Champions League winner, for
"Thatís why the Geordie fans love him so much. Heís batting below, if
you like, his average, heís that good. He should be at a bigger club than
Newcastle Ė although Newcastleís potential is fantastic, of course it is.
"I think any fair-minded football fan
will hope the takeover goes ahead and Rafa Benitez gets the money he deserves
because apart from one or two coded messages heís kept his head down and
orchestrated a very, very important victory.
"Itís a classic example of someone who respects the fans Ė as he did at
Liverpool, and Liverpool fans love him as well.
"Itís a long way back from the
Potteries to Newcastle but Iím delighted for them as an objective football
reporter. They are proper football fans.Ē
"I made the changes as I had four defenders fit. That's all the players
I had - that was the back four irrespective who I played in front of
"I had eight internationals involved that day - I had players that
hadn't played for a while, they needed games.
"If we were closer to Chelsea in the second half, the guys that missed
out, they would have played a part. As it was the game had gone away -
that was the situation. Would you have done different? You would have
played two strong teams?
About getting the sack:
"That's not my decision - I know what I feel. We've got a group of
players that are playing with a lack of confidence. When that happens
their ability to make key decisions becomes tough.
"We're not overwhelmed by it - we've got to make sure we pick ourselves
Newcastle's third away victory of the season followed three point
returns at Swansea and West Ham - this success also completing a second
win double following two wins over the Hammers.
side entertain Swansea in their next PL game.
Those three away wins came wearing three different kits: black at
Swansea, black and white at West Ham and blue at Stoke. That's three games
unbeaten when clad in the blue change garb, following on from 2-2 draws at
Southampton and West Bromwich Albion.
The Magpies won consecutive PL away games for the first time since
back-to-back successes at Spurs and West Bromwich Albion in October/November 2014.
11 points from their first 11 away games is a better tally than United
managed in the whole of 2015/16, when just 9 points were acquired in 19
Such has been our travel sickness that three away victories is already
better than the total managed on four previous occasions in our Pl
history and equal to another four full campaigns:
9: 1993/94*, 2001/02
7: 1995/96, 2013/14
6: 1994/95*, 1996/97, 2002/03, 2005/06
4: 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2006/07
3: 1997/98, 2004/05, 2007/08, 2014/15, 2017/18
2: 2003/04, 2008/09, 2012/13, 2015/16
(19 games in all seasons except *21 games)
Newcastle recorded successive PL clean sheets for the second time this
season, following a 3-0 home win against West Ham and 1-0 victory at Swansea
in August/September. Keeping the Swans at bay in our next PL game would extend
a clean sheet
record to three games in that competition for the first time since November
Ayoze Perez notched his second PL goal of the season following his
strike at Southampton and now has 15, moving ahead of Andy Carroll and Loic Remy and
now two behind Yohan Cabaye.
Potters v Magpies @ Britannia:
2017/18 won 1-0 Perez
2015/16 lost 0-1
2014/15 lost 0-1
2013/14 lost 0-1
2012/13 lost 1-2 Cisse
2011/12 won 3-1 Ba 3
2010/11 lost 0-4
2008/09 drew 1-1 Carroll
2007/08 drew 0-0 (FAC)
First footing: NUFC 01.01 post-war record:
1946 Sheffield Wednesday (a) won
1947 Nottingham Forest (h) won 3-0
1948 West Bromwich Albion (h) won 3-1
1949 Preston North End (a) lost 1-2
1953 West Bromwich Albion (h) lost 3-5
1954 Blackpool (h) won 2-1
1955 Sheffield United (a) lost 2-6
1957 Birmingham City (h) won 3-2
1966 Aston Villa (a) lost 2-4
1969 Real Zaragoza (a) lost 2-3
1972 Wolves (a) lost 0-2
1973 Leicester City (h) drew 2-2
1974 Arsenal (a) won 1-0
1980 mackems (h) won 3-1
1983 Carlisle United (h) drew 2-2
1985 mackems (h) won 3-1
1986 Everton (h) drew 2-2
1987 Manchester United (a) lost 1-4
1988 Nottingham Forest (a) won 2-0
1990 Wolves (h) lost 1-4
1991 Oldham Athletic (a) drew 1-1
1992 Southend United (a) lost 0-4
1994 Manchester City (h) won 2-0
1997 Leeds United (h) won 3-0
2003 Liverpool (h) won 1-0
2005 Birmingham City (h) won 2-1
2007 Manchester United (h) drew 2-2
2014 West Bromwich Albion (a) lost 0-1
2015 Burnley (h) drew 3-3
2018 Stoke City (a) won 1-0
Almost unnoticed on the home bench was former Magpie Stephen Ireland,
who hasn't kicked a ball in senior football since May 2016. Recovering
from a broken leg, he recently signed a short term deal keeping him at
Stoke for the remainder of this season.
Newcastle welcomed in 2018 with three huge points on Monday afternoon as Ayoze
Perez scored to gladden Geordie hearts in the cold, driving Staffordshire rain.
Having endured four successive defeats at what is now known as the bet365
Stadium, the Magpies were in no mood to make it five and should have been
ahead well before the Spaniard netted with seventeen minutes of normal time
United's fourth game in ten days saw Rafa Benitez select a
surprise starting eleven with Christian Atsu supporting Perez up front (it
was later confirmed that injury prevented Joselu from lining up against his old club).
With Mo Diame offering a welcome physical presence in midfield, Matt Ritchie and
Jacob Murphy provided wide cover for a back four in which Javier
Manquillo replaced Paul Dummett at left back.
And that reshuffle worked wonders; a hat-trick of early shooting chances
falling to Atsu before Ciaran Clark contrived to blast over the bar from point-blank range - United
unable to round off some grand approach work that noticeably funnelled down
their right flank and at full back Erik Pieters - a Toon transfer target in
his PSV days and returning to the side following injury.
By contrast City looked nervous and lacking belief, despite a raft of
changes to the weakened XI beaten 0-5 at Chelsea on Saturday. That lack of quality
and effort soon had home fans jeering, veteran forward Peter Crouch
thankfully starved of service and making little impact on
Despite that first half dominance though, United went in at the break with it
still goalless - a rousing chorus from the
travelling support as they wandered towards the dressing room underlining
the collective thought that this game was there for the taking
United then kept their hosts waiting before the start of the second period,
redoubling their efforts by going straight back on the attack from the off.
Kicking towards the away contingent, their best chance saw Jonjo Shelvey's free-kick
whistle narrowly wide
before an obvious push from behind on substitute Dwight Gayle in the box
failed to result in a penalty kick - the striker's recent antics looking to
have counted against him here.
While Shelvey's passing caused City problems, it was a mis-kick from his
opposite number Charlie Adam near the centre circle that gave Murphy his
opportunity to break across the halfway line at pace down the United right.
The former Norwich wideman has been criticised for his decision-making when in
possession, but chose
exactly the right option by pushing forward before sending in a timely low
centre for the unmarked Perez to get just enough of
a touch to beat Jack Butland from six yards.
Celebrations were joyous and prolonged - acknowledging the
significance of the strike - but with more than 20 minutes remaining, including stoppages, there was still plenty of
work to be done.
Thankfully Karl Darlow's lack of action in the first 70+ minutes didn't stop him from pulling off fine
one-handed stops to deny both Mame Biram Diouf and Adam, while Jamaal
Lascelles again played a prominent role in central defence and Paul Dummett
appeared at centre half in the closing stages.
There were a few half chances to double the lead, but United
held firm until referee Chris Kavanagh - who has something of a history with us for
prolonged additional second half minutes - blew for full time and kick-started further
The win elevated us three places into thirteenth, while three points regained
our point-per-game ratio and took us four points clear of the relegation zone.
Seven points from four festive games - including one game against Manchester City - is an
encouraging return given the run that came before it, even allowing for those
two points wasted against Brighton.
Had this been a draw on the back of a home win over Chris Hughton's side,
then we'd have exactly the same points tally - although the same profound
sense of dropping points that we felt after drawing at West Bromwich
Victory here though continues our very welcome habit of collecting points
against sides at our level in the league - something that we never tire of
saying cost us dearly in 2015/16. Six wins from sixteen games would take us
to the magic 40 point mark that has usually ensured survival.
It also rewards those who made considerable sacrifices to get here on the
first day of 2018 and kept faith with their favourites as they made and
missed chances before hitting pay dirt.
The outcome also lends credence to the feeling that this squad is better
equipped to play away from home - although we of course beat Stoke and West
Ham at Gallowgate. Needless to say, a further three point haul on Tyneside
against Swansea City in a fortnight is of vital importance.
Finishing fourth bottom at the end of the season was always our own target
for 2017/18 but although we're back on track to a certain extent, that
shouldn't be used as an excuse for not pledging funds to further improve our
survival chances this month.
Given the uncertainty that
currently surrounds the future ownership of the club though, that's exactly
what seems to be unfolding. On that basis, the upturn in performances from
the likes of Diame is massively welcome and the form and fitness of
Lascelles is pivotal.
Mid-season recruitment though is even more of an imprecise art than close
season acquisitions: two prime examples were on view today (if you knew
where to look).
Newcastle's January 2011 deadline day arrival Stephen Ireland was a total
disaster at SJP, while our prolonged but unsuccessful pursuit of Saido
Berahino in January 2016 was a colossal bullet dodged, today his 24th game
for Stoke and like the other 23, goal-free. Adam Armstrong can do that....
For whatever reason, be it finance or the lack of suitable candidates - the
current garrison may well have to hold the fort - and need every
encouragement in doing so. Happy new year, hopefully.