The truth is though, that this was nothing short of a walk in the park, give or take a few nifty saves from Steve Harper. In fact a viewer might have been forgiven for mistaking this as being a football lesson to the minnows by the professionals in the FA Cup First Round today. If you ignored the 40,000 people in the ground, of course……
Perhaps we shouldn’t get too carried away though, because Peterborough are now rock-bottom and should the remainder of the season follow current form, there will be a full division between these two sides come next season. However, let’s focus on the plus points because there were quite a few.
The first and possibly the most important thing about today was that we came flying out of the blocks. Probably in a way which we’ve not yet done so far this season. That may be as much to do with Peterborough sitting back and not wanting to or being unable to push us back. Either way, that was all the encouragement our lads needed and we punished Peterborough before too long.
Several players in particular, looked to have had a kick up the backside and both Gutierrez and Harewood put themselves about admirably early on. The former to such great effect that after what seems an age, he managed to get his first goal for us. He had a couple of early opportunities as we got at Peterborough straight away but it wasn’t until after 16 minutes and a couple of half chances, that he and we got a breakthrough. After a mazy run from just inside their half, he had overrun the ball in the box only for their centre half to lash his clearance off the charge down and the ball cannoned past the keeper.
He had another spurned chance not long after with a similarly clever run but it was Andy Carroll who got the second after with a glancing header from Danny Guthrie’s corner. Guthrie then did well to shift the ball onto his left foot in the box and smashed a drive off the foot of the post. Almost immediately after that chance, Gutierrez had to be replaced by Ryan Taylor after what seemed to be a groin problem. And that really should have been it for Posh, and there was a definite air of expectancy for a rout. Instead, Newcastle seemed happy enough to dominate possession without really troubling their keeper. But nor did they really trouble Harper, with the defensive partnership of Taylor and Colo paying dividends, and we looked very safe. And it summed up the the lull when the most enthusiasm came from the inflatable ball being bounced around Level 7.
Newcastle upped the tempo again when they came out for the second half and after some changes, Peterborough were almost unrecognisable from the team they had out before the break. However, Danny Simpson then got his first Newcastle goal, after good build up play, with a swinger of a left foot shot which curled into the top corner of Joe Lewis’ goal.
We really should have buried them after that, but again we took our foot off the gas and with their renewed vigour they began to threaten. Steve Harper produced a couple of great saves to protect the clean sheet before Dean Keates scored from a scrambled clearance to reduce the deficit. And with Lovenkrands and Ranger on for Carroll and Harewood, the game somewhat petered out.
On a day of protests outside of the ground (I missed the ones on the way in but heard the ones on the way out), there were also audible anti-Ashley chants inside the ground. Though personally, I’m not sure they were much vociferous than usual, albeit there were a couple of new and quite catchy ditties. However, it stands to reason that the biggest shout of the day went out to our popular owner and what we thought of his recent decisions.
But what’s as important as the ‘Ashley’ stuff, if you’re a Newcastle supporter, is the fact that we’re still top of the league. However, where previously game after game we were left wondering how that could possibly be after the performances, all of a sudden we can start to believe we’re really there on merit after this sort of game. Big shout out to most of the playing squad today, but in particular the defence and specifically Enrique (once again the best player on the pitch from left back). Another steady game from Colo, and great saves from Harps. Well done to Gutierrez and Simpson for their first goals and Harewood for looking interested today. Great stuff overall.
Us: – Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Danny Guthrie, Alan Smith (c), Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez (Ryan Taylor 21), Marlon Harewood (Ranger 77), Andy Carroll (Lovenkrands 78).
Subs: Tim Krul, Nicky Butt, Ryan Taylor, Geremi, Nile Ranger, Tamas Kadar, Peter Lovenkrands.
Posh: Lewis, Lee, Morgan, Bennett, Rowe, Whelpdale (Batt 75), Diagouraga (Coutts 46), Keates, Boyd, Rose (Mclean 46), Mackail-Smith.
Subs: Ben Amos, Russell Martin, Gabriel Zakuani, Lee Frecklington, Paul Coutts, Aaron McLean, Shaun Batt.
Ref: Andy D’Urso.
Att: 43,000 approx (with about 2,500 Posh fans – who played their part in the second half, when they and their team woke up and both can take credit for not folding completely).