After what seems like an age since we last played football, Newcastle United were back in competitive action tonight as they faced Preston North end in the Coca Cola Championship. With a win, Newcastle could return to the top of the league – a draw would mean that they would end up a point behind West Brom.
Newcastle were due to start with Ryan Taylor but lost the player during the warm-up because he was still getting over a virus. Big Toon striker Andy Caroll was also under the weather but was deemed fit enough. Marlon Harewood replaced Taylor in the NUFC lineup.
When Newcastle have played away, they’ve often been under the kosh for the majority of the game. Such is life in the Championship – they players may not beat you with their skill, but they’ll battle and fight for every ball. The Toon almost got off to a perfect start though as Steven Taylor put a diving header just wide.
Neill Mellor, the former Liverpool striker was Preston’s main threat throughout the night and had several chances, one of those coming in the first-half as the striker brought a comfortable save out of Steve Harper. There were several chances for both teams (no surprise, Jonas missed one) and NUFC’s Alan Smith received a yellow card. The game went in at half time nil-nil.
A collision between Preston defender Youl Mawene and his goalkeeper saw the defender replaced at half-time by Liam Chilvers who struck a shot just wide. Christ Hughton replaced Any Carroll around the hour mark with young striker Nile Ranger. The Newcastle youngster almost made an immediate difference and forced Preston’s keeper into a smart save. Newcastle’s goal came from Kevin Nolan, who turned and fired home from about 10 yards. That makes it 8 goals for Nolan who was clearly delighted with the strike. The 3,500 travelling Newcastle fans weren’t half pleased either!
There were disappointing performances from Jonas, Carroll and Harewood, but a win is a win and another three points in the bag. We now sit atop the table clear of second-placed West Brom by two points.