But I had a good feeling about the game as we went through the various security checks and finally into the Shed (lower level gate 1). We found our seats then turned our attention to drinks. But this isn’t Ashburton Grove (Goonersville) and it was disappointing to say the least that nothing alcoholic was allowed or even for sale. Weird!
The guy with the mic walked onto the pitch to start the crowd ‘wind up’.
It was good to see that Alan Pardew put a good attacking team out. Danny Simpson didn’t make the team through injury but I wasn’t worried by the inclusion of James Perch at right back, as he’s shown us how he’s come on this season recently and was once again a stand out performer.
As the game kicked off there was a great atmosphere in the away end and I felt quite confident. Chelsea made a couple of pushes forward but Newcastle repelled them with ease. Then inexplicably after about 3 or 4 minutes, referee Halsey set his stall out by yellow carding Cheik Tiote for brushing past a blue shirted diver. It was obvious that they’d been sent out to try and get Tiote cautioned and/or sent off early. Very disappointing start from the ref. To his credit, Tiote just carried on as if nothing had happened.
It became clear that Newcastle had been well drilled for this game and were right up for it. We were looking dangerous and generally winning everything in the middle of the pitch. It was great to see Hatem Ben Arfa dropping back discharging his defensive duties, then playing nice triangles out wide, bombing forward, winning the ball back with ease.
Davide Santon looked confident and Captain Colo and ‘Iron Mike’ were rock solid in central defence and James Perch was getting his foot in and playing simple balls out from the back. Yohan Cabaye was starting to purr in the centre without being spectacular but creating a smooth dynamo effect, mopping up after Tiote’s ball winning exploits.
It became apparent that the Blues were very wary of their opponents which stopped them committing too many forward early on. They seemed to lack guile and basic drive, maybe with one eye on the weekends FA Cup final and the other on the Champions League final, Oh! That’s both eyes!
Newcastle started to take control of the game despite being the away team and in spite of the ref. We were closing them down in midfield really effectively, but just couldn’t find the killer ball. That all changed as we approached the 20 minute mark. A nice little breakaway down the left with Santon sliding a great ball into the hovering Papiss Cisse, a deft trap, the ball popped up just right for a sharp left-footed volley that comfortably beat Cech in the Chelsea goal. What a sweet strike!
Chelsea 0 – 1 Newcastle United.
The away end went mental, the other 30 odd thousand went silent.
It was a well deserved lead and you could sense that Chelsea, both team and fans, knew it. That was the cue for what became the total domination of the first half by Newcastle. Whatever Chelsea tried, Newcastle had an answer to. There was one decent cross by Torres that resulted in a misguided header that was dangerous for them. JT was getting all kinds of abuse from us lot and as the half wore on and the Blues’ subs warmed up down the touchline, they were greeted with chants of “John Terry hates you!”.
Demba Ba had a couple of half chances, then he hit a great, low shot that Cech could only turn round the post for a corner. Hatem Ben Arfa almost scored from the corner, but Bertrand was just on his mettle enough to put it out for another corner, then a nicely worked corner ended with Ba rattling the bar as the half drew to a close. We were in great voice now, comfortably getting to half-time one goal to the good.
That has to be one of the best first halves that I’ve witnessed at an away game.
Half-time: Chelsea 0 – 1 Newcastle United.
As we kicked off for the second half, Chelsea had brought on Juan Mata, they needed to do something, though I thought they’d be better off bringing on another defender. They got off to a good start, on the attack and to be fair, we were a bit off the pace. Then the ref began to show his colours and they weren’t Black ‘n’ White!
There were very few fouls in this game, so it seemed that ref Halsey decided to invent a few to give himself something to do. It all culminated in one of the most spineless ‘non-decisions’ that I’ve seen in a game, ever! Tiote had gone in on Mikel. Mikel decided to stay down until we kicked the ball out, it was a minor incident to say the least. Then Mikel took it upon himself to wreak retribution around the centre circle. It couldn’t have been more obvious and the ref couldn’t have been better placed or had a better view. As Mikel committed what can only be described as an assault on Tiote, Tiote fell badly after being elbowed blatantly across the face. The ref blew and made aggressive gestures to bring on the medical teams, yet somehow deemed it not worthy of a yellow card, it should have been red! Tiote was prone for the best part of 10 minutes and eventually made way for Ryan Taylor. He’d put in a great shift, but it was disgusting the way that Halsey had offered no protection whatsoever.
Chelsea now thought they were in with a sniff and pushed forward at every opportunity. Lampard and Drogba were brought on, the latter suffering taunts of “He dives when he wants…” whilst warming up in front of the away support. To be to fair to him, he has a sense of humour and laughed as we chanted “Drogba, Drogba gives us a dive!”
He immediately obliged by going down in the box!
Newcastle’s defence was holding strong but we weren’t getting a lot of respite. Chelsea were pushing on, we were throwing everything in front of the ball. Santon had let a couple of passes go astray early in this half, but redeemed himself when he headed clear a JT headed off the line…
That was close!
Shola replaced Ba, which looked a good move, as Shola’s hold up skills helped a lot. Then Obertan came on for Hatem Ben Arfa in an aggressive move that showed Chelsea we weren’t gonna just sit back. He did upset them with a couple of quick bursts that kept their defence on it’s toes.
As the electronic board went up showing 10 minutes of overtime it was no surprise that this spurred Chelsea on for the big push for an equaliser. But Shola was holding up well and causing problems.
Then came the coup de gras!
We won a throw-in down our left, Ryan Taylor took it, a long, arrowed throw down the line that perfectly found Shola’s chest. It was expertly turned into the path of Papiss Cisse, who, with not a lot on as his new strike partner was assisting him out wide, looked up and as quick as you like, right in front of yours truly, with a deft yet meaningful strike, curled in an inverted banana shot right into the top right corner, leaving Cech with no chance at all. .
It could only be described as a world class strike! Believe me, i was at SJP when Solano scored that amazing goal against Everton a few years back, but this was beyond, off the scale and a true contender for goal of the season.
What an honour to see that up close and personal, I knew as soon as he hit it where it was headed.
We went completely crazy, the Chelsea fans right next door looked amazed, bemused and beaten. The crowd started to thin, even with 6 or so minutes to go. They just knew it was all over.
“He scores when he wants, Papiss Cisse, he scores when he wants!” blasted out around an emptying Stamford Bridge. As the final whistle blew, then one of the coolest things I’ve seen at an away game happened: A few of the Chelsea fans sat the other side of the stewards from us actually clapped over in our direction, then some of them actually made their way over to us, going out of their way to come and shake hands with some of our fans, an amazing gesture that I will always remember, they knew that they had been beaten by the better team on the night and appreciated it – Fair play!
As we filed out into the drizzly London night, beaming, I knew that I’d just seen a truly great away result for the Toon, first win at Stamford Bridge since ’87 (in the League), but more especially, we’d just witnessed 2 of the best strikes we’d ever have the pleasure to observe, what a great game, what a great crowd, what a win and what a GOAL!