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Season 2019-20
Sheffield United (a)
Premier League


Thursday 5th December 2019, 7.30pm
Live on Amazon Prime

 Bramall Lane

Conditions: Intoxicated
Programme: 3.50

Sheffield United


0 - 2




15 mins The visitors attacked the Kop End and Alain Saint-Maximin bamboozled home defenders in the box with an amazing pirouette before Isaac Hayden's goalbound shot was blocked and then randomly hacked away out to the right hand side of the box.

Picking up possession, Andy Carroll laid the ball back to Javier Manquillo and he provided a perfect cross for ASM to beat Chris Basham and head into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the six yard box. 

Celebrations in the away end were slightly delayed until it became apparent he'd scored. 1-0

Half time: Blades 0 Magpies 1

70 mins Paul Dummett's lofted ball forward was nodded on by Andy Carroll - who was just over the halfway line in the Sheffield United half - into the path of Jonjo Shelvey. He raced clear between two defenders while the home side reacted to the linesman's flag and downed tools.

Undeterred, Jonjo carried on and tucked away a low shot that goalkeeper Dean Henderson made a half-hearted attempt to stop. Nobody really celebrated behind the goal and when referee Stuart Attwell spoke to Shelvey on the way back, it seemed that he was warning him about time-wasting.

Shelvey had made the VAR sign as he trotted back and the referee (who hadn't blown his whistle) pointed to his ear. The big screen to the left of the away end then indicated there was a check being made of the offside flag, which had been raised against Carroll - who was played onside by the trailing foot of John Egan in the right back position.  

Initial thoughts that there would be a quick "no goal" verdict gave way to increasing optimism that it would be allowed as the seconds ticked away and the "checking" message continued to flash.

After around 90 seconds the verdict was delivered, by which time many fans in the away end had seen the footage on their mobile phones (although there was confusion over at which point the offside call had been made, many thinking it was Shelvey who had been penalised and taking their cue from seeing that he was onside).

As the call was delivered, the Newcastle players - who had reformed in their own half for the restart - ran back across the field to celebrate in front of their own supporters. The Blades players looked too dazed to restart the game immediately. 2-0

Full time: Blades 0 Magpies 2

We Said

Former Blades Manager Steve Bruce:

"I was delighted with the spirit of the players. To come here has never been easy over a number of years. Chris Wilder has done a remarkable job.

"We knew how hard it was, they've got a very good team and we had to dig in, especially first half where our goalkeeper has made a couple of world-class saves. The spirit was terrific again.

"Its a huge month for us. Its season-defining, I think it is for every team because there are so many games. I have always said that a few results along the way helps everybody, so weve given ourselves a nice platform going into the busy Christmas period.

The spirit among the players, and their attitude and the way they are playing has delighted me.

On the second goal:

"I can imagine how Chris is, but ultimately the right decision was made on the night. I have to say well done to the referee for not blowing his whistle, but also Jonjo for playing on, which was the directive at the start of the season, to carry on until you hear the whistle.

"If that is an opportunity the linesman keeps his flag down because it looked borderline. Maybe he could have kept the flag down and checked later. 

"Ultimately it was the correct decision. The referee will not blow the whistle and he has done that. 

"Usually it is clear and obvious for the linesman to put his flag up but let's remind everyone it was the second goal, which wasn't important anyway.

They Said

Disgruntled home boss Chris Wilder:

"A missed opportunity. I am OK with that performance, it was always going to be difficult against a team that never shifted. The first goal is really important and it is super difficult when you go behind against a team like Newcastle.

"This game in a heartbeat has changed. This game now is completely different to what I experienced as a 16-year-old lad as an apprentice. I don't know where it is going and it is sucking the life out of me and the supporters.

"I was told at the start of the season that the linesman would not put his flag up and let it go. He put his flag up and the referee was about to blow his whistle.

"Everyone in the ground stopped. Jonjo Shelvey even nonchalantly went up and took an opportunity. His body language said to me he had seen the linesman had put the flag up and he was going to be offside.

"I want to be talking about our first season back in the Premier League. I want to talk about trying to break down a team like Newcastle - to talk about football and not yet again VAR."

Reflecting on the away support:

"I think Sheffield United fans are mad but Geordies, they're absolutely off their nut them. Passionate, aren't they? Really passionate .

You've seen them when they've gone 2-0 up. Brilliant. Supporting the team, supporting Steve, so I'm not taking anything away."



Alain Saint-Maximin scored his first goal for the club, making him the 147th Newcastle player to have done so in the Premier League, from 236 who have played in that competition for us.

Jonjo Shelvey struck again to extend his lead at the top of the club scoring chart this season, now with four to his name so far in 2019/20. The last time that he scored in consecutive games was for Blackpool in 2011 (in the Championship).

There was a first competitive airing for the green second kit, seen only once previously, at Preston North End in pre-season. Newcastle lost 1-2 that day, with Jonjo Shelvey on target.

Our 15 PL goals this season to date have come courtesy of ten different players: 

Jonjo Shelvey 4
Ciaran Clark 2
Jetro Willems 2
Federico Fernandez 1
Jamaal Lascelles 1
Joelinton 1
Matty Longstaff 1
Alain Saint Maximin 1
Fabian Schar 1
DeAndre Yedlin 1

That compares to 13* different players amassing our total of 42 in the entire 2018/19 season.

(* actually 13 NUFC players and one OG)

Following wins at Spurs and West Ham, Newcastle were successful away from home for the third time in the PL this season. With no draws, their other five away games have all ended in defeat.

That third victory already means that The Magpies are more successful on their travels than in 2003/04, 2008/09, 2012/13 and 2015/16 - managing just a pair of away wins on each occasion.

A trio of victories also emulates the entire total from the 1997/98, 2004/05, 2007/08 and 2014/15 seasons. The last two seasons each brought four PL away wins under Rafa Benitez

After having remained unbeaten when visiting the three promoted clubs last season (drew at Cardiff, drew at Wolves, won at Fulham), this outcome saved us from a clean sweep of defeats at the newbies this time round (lost at Norwich, lost at Villa, won at Sheffield United).

Andy Carroll started his first Newcastle game since a 0-2 loss at Tottenham in December 2010.

Toon @ The Lane - last 10:

2019/20 won 2-0 Saint-Maximin, Shelvey (PL)
2015/16 drew 2-2 Wijnaldum, Jong (FR)
2009/10 won 1-0 og(Morgan) (Ch)
2006/07 won 2-1 Martins, Steven Taylor (PL)
1993/94 lost 0-2 (PL)
1989/90 drew 1-1 og(Morris) (D2)
1988/89 lost 0-3 (LC)
1978/79 lost 0-1 (D2)
1976/77 drew 0-0 (FAC)
1976/77 won 1-0 Gowling (AIC)





A rare Thursday night Premier League fixture brought Newcastle an outcome that not many had predicted on their first visit to Bramall Lane in a decade.

It wasn't just the oddness of the time and unfamiliarity of their kit that made this a memorable encounter though: a first goal for Alain Saint-Maximin and a memorable display from goalkeeper Martin Dubravka all eclipsed by the crucial intervention of VAR technology. 

Boosted by the point gained against reigning champions Manchester City the previous Saturday, the same lineup save for Joelinton's replacement by Andy Carroll took to the field
amid an unimpressive and totally pointless flashing light show accompanied by jets of flame at pitchside.

Steve Bruce spoke afterwards of Carroll's physicality being vital to unsettle the uncompromising trio of central defenders fielded by the home side, but the Magpies striker was kept busy at the other end of the field as the Blades bombarded our box at every opportunity.

Chris Wilder's side were unbeaten in their last seven games and began at a fast tempo, working the ball forward intelligently but with the minimum of delay. The first of a string of noteworthy stops from Dubravka saw him tip over a deflected shot by Enda Stevens and before half time he'd been equal to Ollie McBurnie's header and Oliver Norwood's free kick.

By then though the visitors had taken the lead; Saint-Maximin heading in after quarter of an hour. That rare foray upfield provided fleeting relief to a Newcastle defence that held firm but were often undermined by poor distribution that prompted yet another wave of attacks from the Blades.

The home fans were growing increasingly restless at the deliberate attempts by Newcastle at slowing the game down, something that had been evident from the early minutes and ultimately prevented the hosts from getting fully into their stride again after the restart.

Newcastle also benefited from some rotation that saw in-form striker Lys Mousset start the game on the bench; entering the fray just after the hour mark and barely featuring before the 70th minute incident that ensured this game will be long-remembered.

A linesman's flag raised in error was enough to make the Sheffield players pause as Jonjo Shelvey chased and collected Andy Carroll's flick-on, the Newcastle captain running unimpeded towards goal before firing home - something appeared to be both unnecessary and futile on first viewing.

However the situation rapidly changed; Shelvey's indication that VAR should be invoked echoed by the referee. And after a seemingly interminable delay, confirmation that the goal would in fact stand caused consternation among home followers and pandemonium in the away end.

The referee had told players before kick-off to play on and let VAR sort things out in the event of any incidents of the sort that befell Shelvey and that's exactly what happened: an object lesson in playing to the whistle but one only applied by the remote referee. 

That's a triumph of technology for some, but a further erosion of the spontaneity of the game for many others. And after the debate about variable interpretations of the rules by officials is over, the future role and usefulness of flag wavers is also called into question. 

Apart from checking the studs/blades of incoming substitutes or flanking the referee as he or she leaves the field, most other functions appear now to be more logically called remotely than at pitch level, certainly offside calls.

Back to tonight's game though and Shelvey's sharp thinking left Newcastle two goals up with twenty minutes to play. The stuffing had been visibly knocked out of the hosts and any thoughts that the decision would inspire the home side and crowd to a rousing comeback soon evaporated. 

A third Toon goal even looked possible in the closing stages; substitute striker Joelinton twice finding himself in possession on the edge of the Blades box without testing Henderson.

Those disgruntled home fans were streaming away to the exits well before six minutes of added time were played - caused in part by the earlier VAR delay. Three points took Newcastle up to the dizzy heights of 11th in the table, alongside Arsenal who lost at home by Brighton.

A tally of 19 points from 15 games is six more than we possessed at this point last season - and it took us until our 22nd game of 2018/19 to outstrip that 19 point total (when victory over Cardiff City took us from 18 to 21 points). 

As one bystander said at half time though, "they'd have been booed off it wasn't for that goal."

The defence proved to be solid again despite looking vulnerable down the Sheffield right, as Jetro Willems had to contend with some eccentric assistance from Saint-Maximin. And if Dubravka's display wasn't quite in the Krul at Spurs class, he's grown since a succession of questionable displays that raised questions about a possible return to the fold for Karl Darlow. 

A team that barely had a shot scored twice and once again confounded expectations, but were living dangerously for long periods of the first half. Although the result was an inversion of our last away game at Villa, there were echoes in our willingness to drop ever deeper to soak up pressure.  

We live in interesting times.


Page last updated 19 March, 2020