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Season 2020-21
Sheffield United (h) Premier League


Wednesday 19th May 2021, 6.00pm.
Live on Sky Spor

 St. James' Park

Conditions: Populated

Admission: 1/19th of season ticket price
(Corporates £65, L7 non-ballot sale £30).



Sheffield United

1 - 0




45+4 mins Jonjo Shelvey advanced down the Newcastle left and pinged a forward pass to Joelinton just inside the Blades box. He took the ball on his chest and tried to advance in possession, but Jack Robinson cleared as far as Allan Saint-Maximin on the left hand corner of the area.

He darted infield and danced away from a posse of defenders before slipping a glorious ball between two opponents to Jacob Murphy, whose first-time centre from the right was buried by Joe Willock from six yards.

Whoever was commentating live on Sky got messrs Murphy and Willock muddled up, crediting Murphy with having provided both the assist and the goal. It was later clumsily overdubbed with the correct scorer's name. 1-0

Half time: Magpies 1 Blades 0

Full time: Magpies 1 Blades 0

We Said

Steve Bruce said:

"The supporters were terrific. When you think there were only 10,000 here, the difference is amazing.

On the negative reaction after full time:

"As I've said from day one, I won't be everyone's cup of tea unfortunately, but that's the way it is. Everyone's entitled to their opinion
(except Craig Hope he forgot to add....)

"We could have put it to bed a bit earlier. Some of our play in the first half was very decent.

"We all aspire to take Newcastle into the top half of the table. We have to be actively better than just surviving. We have got the makings of a half-decent team.

"We don't know if it's a calf or a kick
(with Saint-Maximin). It looked a bit innocuous; whether it's a sprain or a kick, he's not sure, so we'll see how he is in the next 24 hours.

"I've said from day one that people will enjoy watching him. He's got ability that gets you off your seat. Some of the stuff he does off the cuff is not coachable. He's still got a lot to do, the final bit, but his talent is there for everyone to see.

"It's a double-edged sword (with Joe Willock). We have to respect he's Arsenal's player. If we can, we'd love to bring him here. Let's see what we can do because he's exactly what we needed.

"Joe has still got a lot to learn but we have given him a freedom and a licence to get forward. He is a young player enjoying his football."

Willock himself diplomatically said:

"I'm not sure.

"I need to have a conversation and see what the best move for me is. I have made friends for life and made a really big connection with the fans.

"It is one of my options (to remain at NUFC) and I am going to consider it."

They Said


Paul Heckingbottom commented:

I thought we started really well, stopped them playing forwards and created good chances, which we didnít take. Then we got punished which has been the story of the season.

"We were in control of the game for the first half hour or so and when you fall behind itís a tough game. We huffed and puffed in the second half, had a lot of the ball but we had to try and get back in the game.

The new guy (his unidentified successor) will have taken a lot away from that, because heíll have been watching, and also our last few games.

"Heíll know weíre a hard working group and heíll know that weíve got strength in depth, because there are so many quality players out.

"Theyíll be looking at that strength in depth, allied with the work rate and attitude of these boys, and thinking weíve got a fantastic chance next season.Ē

"Iíve enjoyed it, Iíve enjoyed working with this group of players, because, whatever else, they give you everything.Ē

"It was brilliant to be out there in front of supporters again, even though they werenít our own, so I canít wait for Sunday. I canít believe itís been 15 months since we went behind closed doors, albeit with a week or so out, and itís taken a lot out of people so hopefully it will be the last time.

"Even when we got to the hotel the night before, there were people in the bar and it just felt normal. Before the game, I had a coffee and was watching people come in. It just felt normal, or more normal and that was great.Ē



Joe Willock netted for a sixth successive appearance, only the third Magpie to do so in the Premier League, following Papiss Cisse in 2012 and Alan Shearer in 1996. Shearer went one better with seven.

The 21 year-old is the youngest player to have achieved the feat for any club in Premier League history.

Willock now has seven PL goals to his name in a black and white shirt, a total that matches current team mate Matt Ritchie and old boys Jonas Gutierrez, Carl Cort, Stephen Glass and Mark Viduka.

His goal against the Blades also meant that Willock had scored in four successive PL home appearances. The last player we can find who achieved that was Yoan Gouffran in 2013.

Paul Dummett made his 200th senior competitive appearance for the Magpies in all competitions (179 starts + 21 sub).

Martin Dubravka reached the milestone of 100 PL games for the club.

Newcastle recorded only their second PL home clean sheet of the season, the other the 0-0 draw with Liverpool in December. Their last PL home win and clean sheet combination was in June 2020, a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United that was the first competitive game played behind closed doors.

Newcastle ended their home campaign with a victory for the first time in three seasons. This was their sixth PL win at SJP in 2020/21, emulating the total recorded in 2019/20 and 2010/11. The only time they've won less times at home in a PL season was 2008/09 (five).

With one game left, Newcastle have scored 44 PL goals, their highest top flight total since matching that figure in 2015/16.

Blades in Toon - last 10:

2020/21 won 1-0 Willock
won 3-0 Saint-Maximin, Ritchie, Joelinton
2009/10 won 2-1 Lovenkrands, Nolan
2006/07 lost 0-1
1999/00 won 4-1 Shearer, Dabizas, Ferguson, Gallacher (FAC)
1993/94 won 4-0 Beardsley 2, OG, Cole
1989/90 won 2-0 Gallacher, Quinn
1988/89 won 2-0 Hendrie, Mirandinha (LC)
1985/86 drew 1-1 Cunningham (FR)
1978/79 lost 1-3 Shoulder

Closing home game results - PL era:

2020/21 Sheffield United won 1-0
Liverpool lost 1-3
2018/19 Liverpool lost 2-3
2017/18 Chelsea won 3-0
2016/17 Barnsley won 3-0 (Ch)
2015/16 Spurs won 5-1
2014/15 West Ham won 2-0
2013/14 Cardiff City won 3-0
2012/13 Arsenal lost 0-1
2011/12 Manchester City lost 0-2
2010/11 West Bromwich Albion drew 3-3
2009/10 Ipswich Town drew 2-2 (Ch)
2008/09 Fulham lost 0-1
2007/08 Chelsea lost 0-2
2006/07 Blackburn Rovers lost 0-2
2005/06 Chelsea won 1-0
2004/05 Chelsea drew 1-1
2003/04 Wolves drew 1-1
2002/03 Birmingham City won 1-0
2001/02 West Ham won 3-1
2000/01 Aston Villa won 3-0
1999/00 Arsenal won 4-2
1998/99 Blackburn Rovers drew 1-1
1997/98 Chelsea won 3-1
1996/97 Nottingham Forest won 5-0
1995/96 Spurs drew 1-1
1994/95 Crystal Palace won 3-2
1993/94 Arsenal won 2-0




In the 445 days since last we gathered, a wealth of new expressions have entered the vocabulary of Newcastle fans: contact tracing, surge testing, Willock scoring....

The on-loan Arsenal midfielder extended his scoring run to six successive games with a header at the Gallowgate End in first half injury time to ensure a happy return for the estimated 10,000 fans admitted to St.James' Park on Wednesday evening.

However that was a rare moment of fluency from a Magpies side who lost three players to injury during the course of the game and had several more struggling to continue when the full time whistle belatedly sounded after the injury time of injury time.

Joelinton didn't return after the interval, Allan Saint-Maximin then limped off and cramp victim Willock was replaced by Andy Carroll - whose anticipated final appearance at SJP had looked in some jeopardy moments earlier, when Martin Dubravka looked to have tweaked a hamstring.

However the goalkeeper managed to play on after a visit from the physio - and the final substitution resulted in the introduction of Carroll.

The opening stages of the game were played to the expected gleeful scenes of football fans returning to their native habitats of pub and ground and the noise levels were decent enough, even if the spaced out seating plans gave this the look of a particularly poorly-patronised pre-season friendly.

Attempting to avoid the defeat that would have left them odds-on to become the statistically worst side ever to suffer demotion from the Premier League, the Blades soon threatened and David McGoldrick should have soured the party atmosphere after just six minutes instead of firing wide.

Newcastle's only scoring opportunity of note in the opening 45 minutes was a 27th minute Jonjo Shelvey header well saved by Aaron Ramsdale. First half added time though proved to be the most entertaining and decisive passage of play; Joelinton heading over and Willock then having an effort blocked from United's next attack, although he looked to be offside.

The goal stemmed from a typical dart across the edge of the Blades box by Saint-Maximin and a glorious ball between two opponents to Murphy, whose first-time centre from the right was buried by Willock from six yards.

And that was as good as it got; the second half notable only for a snap shot by McGoldrick from distance that struck the woodwork and occasional forays by Saint-Maximin and Miggy Almiron that never quite came to fruition.

Willock looked genuinely moved by the standing ovation as he made his way around from the East Stand via the Leazes and back to the dugout. For all the positive soundbites though, logic would suggest that this was his swansong as a Magpie, departing without even a chant minted in his honour.

While he was the hero of the hour and a half though, audible booing greeted the appearance of pantomime villain Steve Bruce at the rear of the lap of honour circling the pitch after full time.

Given the low crowd here though and the fact that many malcontents chose not to attend, it's open to question quite how this will all look - and sound - when Newcastle next take to the field at SJP.

How many fans are present and how openly critical of the Manager some of them are is something we genuinely cannot predict at this point in time. In our eyes, the slow take-up of tickets for this first home game in 15 months continues a narrative of the 10,000 given away two seasons ago and is a massive warning sign that filling this place is no longer a given.

Be it being out of the habit, waiting for the takeover or just finding something else to do with their lives, many fans seem unconvinced by "the product."

The script demanded that Newcastle won, but a warts and all display was also quite appropriate, tonight a timely reminder that much of what we've missed during lockdown wasn't worth watching.

All that we aspired to achieve this season was to get to the end of it in one piece physically and emotionally, supporting a Premier League football team. On that basis it has been a success, but aspiration and ambition cannot be hidden away indefinitely - and attempts to downsize expectations to mere survival cannot be allowed to persist, even if that's the owner wants.



Page last updated 08 August, 2021