1. Newcastle United 3-0 Manchester United
Any result against a top 4 club is a fantastic one, and this comfortable vivtory over the Red Devils was nothing short of remarkable. Coming into the match, Manchester United had scored 12 goals in their previous 3 Premier league match, including two emphatic 5-0 victories over Fulham and Wigan. For Newcastle, we had 3 of the previous 5 match; a spell which saw us drop many points against winnable opposition- Norwich City and West Brom. Coming into the game, many people expected the bad run of from to continue.
However, it was not to be. In the 33rd minute, Demba Ba picked up a flick from partner Ameobi and then hooked his shot past Anders Lindegaard, who conceded only his second goal in eight appearances. Two minutes after the break, the Magpies extended the lead with one of the strikes of the season when France midfielder Cabaye curled in a 30-yard free-kick which bounced in off the underside of the bar. An embarrassing own-goal from Phil Jones completed the rout in the dying minutes of the match, to complete, in my opinion, the result of the season.
Considering Manchester United were in such strong form at that time, it was always going to be a tough ask to grab a point, let alone 3. However, Newcastle United were faster, stronger and more determined to grab the win. The victory sparked a minor recovery from the bad run of form preceding the match, and we went on to grab two wins over Blackburn and QPR in the following weeks.
2. Stoke 1-3 Newcastle United – 31st October
As proven by Stoke’s impressive first season in the top flight of English football, they were a force to be reckoned with and had really turned the Britannica Stadium into an unlikely fortress. With 6 wins out of 6 in Europe, and credible wins at home to Liverpool and Tottenham, along with a point against Chelsea, Stoke were the favourites coming into the game.
Despite getting a lot of stick from the home fans, Demba Ba ignored the jeering and booing to score a very impressive 3 goals. He was lively all evening and proved Tony Pulis, the manager who had rejected him in the summer due to injury concerns, embarrassingly wrong.
The win moved Newcastle up to third in the league and really showed the many doubting pundits wrong. We showed the likes of Alan Hansen that we were a club on the up; a side who could ruthlessly despatch any club. Along with Demba Ba, Tim Krul had a fantastic match between the sticks and was one of the defining moments of his first full season as the Newcastle first-choice goalkeeper.
3. Nottingham Forest 3-4 Newcastle United – 20th September
Despite seeming on paper an easy tie, Newcastle came into the game appropriately cautious of Nottingham Forest and their tendency to pull off cup-shocks. At the time, they were struggling in the championship, but had signed some impressive players over the Summer after lining up the former England manager, Steve Mclaren, as their manager. Their fans had high expectations for the new-look side, and saw the domestic cup competitions as an excellent way to improve the club’s fortunes and kick-start a successful season.
Newcastle went in front through Peter Lovenkrands but Robbie Findley equalised just after half-time. Lovenkrands then scored a penalty but Forest hit back via Matt Derbyshire. Going into extra time, Newcastle went all-out attack with the intention of finishing Forest off as quickly as possible. Simpson’s 93rd-minute cross, which floated over Camp and into the back of the net, looked to have won it for the Geordies, but Marcus Tudgay struck with six minutes of extra time remaining when he tapped home substitute Ishmael Miller’s cross from close range. However, the ever-present captain, Fabricio Coloccini popped up in the box with just a couple of seconds to play to tap home an Gabriel Obertan cross.
The win kept alive the unbeaten run and showed the resilient nature of the Newcastle side. The win kept Newcastle’s cup aspirations alive and also displayed the strength of depth in the squad. There had been 9 changes from the 1-1 draw at Villa and the lesser-known squad players showed their true colours.
4. Sunderland 0-1 Newcastle United – 20th August
Coming into the second match of the season, Newcastle fans were not sure what to expect from Alan Pardew’s side. They had picked up an impressive point in the first game of the season against Arsenal, but the transfer window frustrations had left the Geordie fans slightly disheartened at the fact that Mike and his troupe were unable to bring in a big-money replacement for Andy Carroll. Sunderland, who had been one of the biggest spenders in the Summer transfer window were favourites coming into the match, having drawn impressively at Anfield the week before.
Despite Sunderland starting well, they were unable to convert the possession into goals. In the second half, Joey Barton was denied a goal when his header struck Sebastian Larsson’s arm and it looked like that incident might prove pivotal. However, in the 62nd minute, Ryan Taylor, the free-kick specialist, unleashed a masterstroke which flew into the top right corner of the net.
Victory for Alan Pardew’s team means that Newcastle had lost only one of the last 13 league games against their north-east rivals and it was Pardew’s first since taking over last season. The momentous win further ignited a run of 10 games unbeaten in the league.
5. Newcastle United 1-0 Norwich City – 18th March
Some people may be surprised about the inclusion of this result. However, I think it definitely warrants some recognition. Coming into the match, Newcastle had failed to win in the last 4 matches and had experienced a heartbreaking defeat the week before to a strong Arsenal side. We had dropped precious points at home to Wolves – a match which we were winning 2-0 at half time- and had been crushed 5-0 by Tottenham a couple of weeks before the match. Whatever the opposition, Newcastle United had a tough match and needed to show their resilient quality and ambitious nature to prove the doubters wrong, and reignite our European aspirations.
It wasn’t a pretty match at St. James’ Park, with neither side playing to their potential. However, after 11 minutes Cisse managed to complete a sublime finish, superbly turning Jonas Gutierrez’s cross into the top corner from 12 yards with the outside of his foot. And the goal from the Senegalese front man proved to be the difference between the two sides in the end.
Although it definitely wasn’t one of the best performances of the season, the side showed that they were able win ugly and to muster up the energy to grab goals when they are least expected- a trait which defines a resilient and committed team. You can’t always win matches with beautiful football, and Newcastle managed to stay mentally strong and pull off a decent win against an inexperienced, yet very strong side.