Dinosaur Monty Magpie on Newcastle United
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Dec 26th: Toon...1 Notts Forest...3
All looked comfy as we took the lead through a slightly generous penalty. But two breakway goals shoved another nail into our season's coffin. Once they had grabbed a third, we looked like the proverbial seasonal turkey- well stuffed. So what went wrong? In two words, wheels/ off. That's not an explanation. You couldn't fault our effort, what was our downfall was our finishing, we built well but never forced a decent save from their goalie. Izak looks a class player, as does Bruno, but some of the team seem to be resting on their laurels. As for the manager, bringing off the ever persistent Miggy lost us impetus, and switching Gordon to take his place didn't quite work, but then nothing much did quite come off today. Next two away games are last chance saloon

Dec 23rd: Luton...1 Toon...zero
Not a merry Christmas! Certainly Izak's equaliser should have stood, yet that would have only masked the mini crisis we are currently enduring. Yes, we have been mauled by injuries, but might I suggest that Howe's attractive style of pressing football has contributed to this stockpile of absentees?
Home form has been our saviour, but the question over the holiday period is, how can we start to move forward again? The transfer window is a-coming, but do we need a fresh injection at the top? Manager Howe has worked miracles, yet has ground to a halt. Is there anybody who could do better? I can't think of many candidates to replace him- in fact only one. If I owned Newcastle United - some wish!- then I'd been on the phone to that guy!

Dec 19th: Chelsea...1 Toon...1 (League Cup)
Good early pressure from our wingers, but watch out! On 6 mins their shot crashes against our crossbar. 10 mins in -we're running rings around them-but a great cross gets no takers. Then on the quarter hour, Callum breaks away down half the pitch, rides his luck and shoots unerringly. The home team now had almost continuous possession, but didn't threaten until the 26th minute, then seconds later, their shot well blocked by the influential Bruno. 37 mins: Gordon dispossessed, in their area, and they imitate our tactic of breaking away: they score, but clearly offside. The half ended more evenly, with good deep defending by us. Second half saw us absorbing more pressure, with minor scares, Dub making a good save on 55 mins. We offered nothing going forward, but were just about holding on, partly thanks to their inability to shoot too well. Yet an equaliser from them looked inevitable, and come it did in the first added on minute: another Trippier error, sorry to say. Now the momentum was severely against us, and it was down to penalty kicks.
Taking first shot- Chelsea. Goal. Callum shoots: 1-1. Chelsea goal. Trippier of all players next: predictable miss: odd choice of penalty taker. Score now 1-3 against us, as Bruno steps up. 2-3. Then 2-4. Ritchie shoots but it is saved. All over, disappointed? Yes, specially as we'd held on resolutely to that lead for much of the game

Dec 16th: Toon...3 Fulham...0
With the opposition reduced to ten players for much of the game, this would have been a pretty poor effort if we had not taken all three points. However we did and did it well, our first goal a first for the impressive Miley. SJP is a fortress, it's our away form that's the prob

Dec 13th: Toon...1 AC Milan...2
Doubtful if a few months ago, Howe would have envisaged starting a Chumps' League match with this eleven, but needs must, and in the first half they did us proud, a superb goal from Joe from an exquisite pass from Miley meant that at half time we were actually on target for the Chumps' knockout stage. However the Italians upped their game and we seemed not to have the legs to respond, and despite our best efforts, we end up fourth in our group, out of four. Perhaps it's a blessing our brief foray into Europe is completely over so that we can concentrate on domestic matches

Dec 10th: Spurs...4 toon...1
Our poor performance at the end of the last match regrettably carried over into the first half of this, quite our worst showing this season. However, in the second, spurred on by the manager, we took the game to Spurs, the only snag was that by this time we were two goals in arrears. Revival seemed possible, until their third snuffed out all hope. The only good thing was that we did score, but it was little consolation

Dec 7th: Everton…3 Toon…0
So why is our away League form so abysmal? Some have put it down to the injury crisis, but that’s not really why we lost today. Yes some players did look spent, but we managed to overcome early Toffee pressure and ride our luck: Both Izaak and Almiron had a good chance each, in both halves, but did little else of note. Most profligate was Gordon who was presented with four good chances, I counted, but couldn’t get a shot on target. Goalie sub Dub started well, though three flaps in the second half didn’t inspire confidence. However it was Trippier who uncharacteristically made two dreadful blunders midway into the second half that cost us goals, and thereafter we looked completely shot. By the final whistle, this was becoming our worst performance this season

Dec 2nd: Toon...1 ManU...0
A flattering scoreline- to them! We dominated the game and Gordon topped it off with the only goal of the match

Nov 28th: PSG...1 Toon...1
Herculean effort by our walking wounded- Man of the Match? More like Men of the Match, the whole team gave their all, brilliant save from Pope, stout defence, almost keeping the world's best player quiet, and a brilliant goal from Izak. To be one nil up in the 98th minute was brilliant, only to be robbed at the last by a ref's really dodgy decision. The handball rule needs serious revision, as for VAR, what's the point when even a halfwit could see it was no penalty?

Nov 25th: Toon...4 Chelsea...1
Convincing win with the returning Izak getting us up and running, then two quick fire goals early in the second half put the result beyond doubt. They were down and out going down to ten men before conceding a fourth

Nov 11th: Bournemouth...2 Toon...0
It's said that a good team can somehow win, even when not playing well. There's no doubt that we didn't perform well for most of this game, and it was only thanks to Pope that the scoreline against this relegation threatened side wasn't bigger. Injuries certainly can be cited as an excuse, but today it was us that looked the side scared of relegation. Mebbes the toll of Euro football is valid too, but it doesn't appear too likely that this will be a distraction next season

Nov 7th: Dortmund...2 Toon...0
Questions had been asked about team selection last week for the ManU match, though doubters like myself were proved happily wrong. However, the same trick didn't work tonight, opposition was no team in disarray. Too late our supersubs Miggy and Gordon came on, by then the psycho damage had been done, and we now sit bottom of the Euro table. But still hope we can pull through!

Nov 4th: Toon...1 Arsenal...0
An ill-tempered match in which two players deserved to be red carded, one from each side- though neither was. Our winner was so much disputed that it took three separate eternal VAR inquisitions to uphold it. Certainly it looked dubious, but the important thing is that, unlike earlier this season, we more than held our own with the so-called Big Boys

Nov 1st: ManU...0 Toon...3 (League Cip)
All credit to Howe, because I thought his team selection was handing the home team a huge advantage. But he had correctly calculated the shambles that are the Reds at present, though he did strike a bit lucky when he had to bring on Miggy after only two minutes. Miggy took a brilliant goal to silence the home supporters, though the credit must be due to Liv who ran half the pitch before delivering a telling pass to Miggy. Thereafter our fans joyously chanted his name. The second half began with them pressing with much more intent, and the only question was, how well could our second string defend? We needn't have worried, and indeed an inevitable breakaway saw Willock net our third, his first since his long absence through injury. All in all, a surprisingly satisfying evening, the only surprise being that having entrusted so many players who are normally on the bench, Howe brought on our big guns for the final half hour. Still, we kept a clean sheet and took some revenge for that Cup Final defeat last February

Oct 28th: Wolves...2 Toon..2
Not sure if we dropped two points, or won one. Twice we held the lead, firstly through Callum's fine second attempt ar a shot, and then a very doubtful penalty, which Callum thankfully converted. But it was a dubious award, that's why I feel a draw was fair enough. In truth, a few of our team seemed to have the equivalent of jet lag, after apparently playing in too many matches, so thank goodness tonight for those who kept their energy levels high, I specially single out Bruno, Miggy, Wor Sean and Schar

Oct 25th: Toon...0 Dortmund...1
Reality check- was there just a tiny hint of complacency and over-confidence before the match? But after the frenetic opening, with Pope forced into making two good saves, we knew we had a game on. We gave nearly as good as we got, but their goal was seemingly inevitable. Also inevitable, I felt, was the fact that we were never gonna score, even despite hitting the crossbar twice. No, they were the better side, beating us at our own pressing game

Oct 21st: Toon...4 Palace...0
Never thought I'd be writing this: Murphy- Man of the Match!

Oct 8th: West Ham...2 Toon...2
Izak's two goals shot us into the lead after a poorish first half display. Then it was a disappontment to concede a second goal near the death, and we were left reflecting- if only Izak's shot hasn't hit the post, but gone in for his hat trick... Still maybe as Bruno possibly ought to have been off the pitch, a draw was a fair result!

Oct 4th: Toon...4 PSG...1
Be honest- you'd never have predicted this scoreline except in your dreams. The French high flyers were grounded by our team, who gave it their all. At three nil up, we were in heaven! Miggy had opened the scoring, then Wor Dan, after an interminable VAR check, grabbed a second, and Wor Sean made it paradise. However with over half an hour to go, they did pull one back, and the ground was swept with a tension tempered with optimism. As the minutes wore on, it became evident that despite their dominance in possession, they weren't gonna make it. Then as five minutes injury time began, Schar grabbed our fourth and a sense of relief and joy whirled around

Sept 30th: Toon...2 Burnley...0
Expected win, but we worked for it and deserved it. Brilliant goal from Miggy from 30 yards to get us moving!

Sept 27th: Toon...1 Man City...0 (League Cup)
What painful watching was the first half, with us hardly able to get out of our own half. But the same defensive determination shown at Milan, kept us in the match, and arguably we had the best, the only chance of the first half when Murphy broke away and could have scored. The second half was utter contrast, joyful watching as our two subs and a new attacking zest changed the game. Once Izaak had scored, Man City were on the back foot, and though their subs threatened to change their fortunes, we had something to hold on to... and we did! It was a tense wait for that final whistle, but we beat the champs!

Sept 24th: Sheffield Utd...0 Toon...8
Yes, we were expected to win this, but the margin was convincing, even if our opponents wilted. First goal was a beauty, Gordon centering for Wor Sean to poke the ball in. Then a Trippier corner, powerfully headed in by Wor Dan. A Trippier free kick saw another headed goal, from Botman. The rot had now set in, even Whitley Bay could have beaten this lot! Wilson, who spurned one good chance and two other half chances, finally made it count, then followed more goals, almost too many to count. The pick perhaps, was Bruno's fine through pass which Miggy ran on to and put away with aplomb. A confidence booster and no mistake!

Sept 19th: AC Milan...0 Toon...0
Our return to the Chumps League was certainly notthing like the swashbuckling days of Asprilla and Keegan! Howe wisely took a pragmatic approach, just as Rafa might have done, recognising that a point would be a good result, and indeed so it proved. Not pretty, but realistic

Sept 16th: Toon...1 Brentford...0
Thankfully we won, result more important than performance. But not convincing, specially as the away side made all the running in the first quarter. We did match them later and were lucky to receive a soft penalty, which Wilson put firmly into the net. Perhaps it was no more than we deserved, for the same player had bundled the ball into the net a few minutes earlier, only to be harshly penalised. No, this wasn't convincing, a contrast to last season's 5-1 win over this team, but at least it was a confidence booster

Sept 2nd: Brighton...3 Toon...1
This became simply embarrassing. After a promising start, we tailed away so badly, players looking anything but sharp, as though pre-season had exhausted them. Our pressing game has been effective, but we have been found out and have no Plan B. After the Liverpool debacle, I suggested Pope be replaced, and today he looked a liability, but several others, Bruno and Burn in particular looked pedestrian. Oh, how we missed the creative flair of Maxi! Excuses are that we have had a tough group of fixtures to start our campaign, but the obvious point is that if we can't beat the likes of Brighton, Top Four is as far off as it was under the Ash*** era. Our next match at home to Brentford was always a Must Win, but now it becomes an Absolute Must. I think, I hope, we will manage that, though, I'll say it again, Howe has done us proud in the past, but is not proven as a long term winner

Aug 27th: Toon...1 Liverpool...2
Not often you see grown men in tears- but we threw away a sure-fire win. After a combative opening, a red card was bound to come, fortunately it went to their top defender. By this time, we already had the lead, Gordon pouncing on a typical Liverpool defensive error, and slotting the ball away with distinction. With them reduced to ten men, and visibly shocked, we failed to grab half a doxen good chances to increase our lead, Gordon perhaps got too swollen headed and tried a couple of long range shots, which had they gone in, we'd have admired. Miggy skied a couple of chances, Thankfully they looked too dazed, though such profligacy encouraged them and in the end the ten scored twice against our dispirited side. I don't usually comment on players, but I must this time. Gordon looked most threatening and it was poor management to take him off. Pope faffed around a lot and though not to blame for the goals, Dub should be considered for the next match. Botman made a rare blunder for their first goal, and he and Schar had a less than distinguished game. Bruno for once was wasteful, and much as Burn is a nice Geordie, he looked very suspect today. Let's hope this was just a blip

Aug 19th: ManC...1 Toon...0
Always going to be tough, this was a wake-up reminder why, even though we are in the Chumps League, we have a long long way to go before we reach the heights. But on the positive side, we kept them down to a single goal, and did have a couple of chances in the second half - Bruno scuffed a shot, and then Wilson was almost through on goal... but in general this had to be gallant defending against a top team

Aug 12th: Newcastle...5 Villa...1
What a splendid start to the season! Even us Toon fans hardly predicted such a sizeable win! Frenetic opening, with newcomer Tonali scoring in six minutes. Then sudden hush as their new man equalised. But Izak proved his worth firing in our second. Thereafter it was mostly one way traffic, the only surprise was that SJP wasn't as full of wild cheering as it should have been. Maybe it was disbelief at the scoreline?

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