There aren’t many things worse than what’s happened to our club over the past week or so, and I was hoping that it wouldn’t have too much of an impact on the NUFC players. Fortunately (and rather fortuitously), they battled to a hard fought victory over Sheffield United.
The Blades made the Newcastle players work hard for this victory, which on another day, could so easily have gone against us. Steve Harper who in particular played an absolute blinder pulling out several stops to keep us in the game. The superb reflex save against Darius Henderson during injury time being the pick of the lot. The reaction amongst the Newcastle players after that save showed just how much NUFC wanted the win.
Newcastle struggled in the first half with few chances being created. The industrious Sheffield United kept on the pressure but the Newcastle defence was (unusually) resolute. One thing that really did annoy me was our use of the ball when we had possession. Jonas Gutierrez being particularly guilty of running up blind alleys and giving away the ball too often for my liking.
The Newcastle goal came after Kevin Nolan won the ball with a strong challenge who then played it to Ryan Taylor, who’s well struck shot took a huge deflection off Chris Morgan and ended up in the back of the net. Newcastle’s performance was a little better in the second half and Andy Carroll had a great header strike off the upright and bounce out.
Sheffield came back into it though as they pressed for the equaliser. They had several good opportunities to grab a goal but some solid defending and Steven Harper in sublime form saw Newcastle take all three points. On the balance of play, I think we just edged it, but make no mistake, the Newcastle United players knew they were in a game tonight.