Newcastle christened their newly named stadium sportsdirect.com @ St James’ Park home with a convincing victory over Peterborough United. Goals from Jonas Gutierrez, Andy Carroll and Danny Simpson saw The Magpies coast to victory despite a late goal from the visitors taking some gloss away from the scoreline. In truth it was a dominant display from the league leaders who showed the gulf in class between the top and the bottom of the league. Newcastle’s victory saw them maintain their two point lead over second place West Brom and they now have a six point gap separating them from the play-off positions. With three wins on the belt following an earlier sticky patch a two week international break is the last thing Newcastle need right now. Indeed after the last international break they lost two games on the bounce, hopefully this time around they can get back to winning ways immediately.
The manner of Newcastle’s 3-1 victory was all the more impressive with so many distractions taking place off the pitch. Saturday saw thousands of fans demonstrate before, during and after the game against the Mike Ashley regime and the St James’ Park name change. Fans gathered outside the Milburn stand before the game to make their feelings known. There were also banners unfurled during the game from small sections of the crowd. However the chanting and the banners did little to dissuade Mike Ashley from attending the game in the director’s box. The name change had no affect on the attendance with over 43,000 spectators attending the game, the second highest attendance in the country over the weekend. It seems that no matter what Mike Ashley will try it won’t stop the fans from staying away, despite a downfall in season ticket sales.
One of the highlights of the game on the pitch was Newcastle’s opening goal scored by Jonas Gutierrez. A mazy run from the half-way line and a cool finish at the end by Gutierrez made him look every inch an Argentinean international. That has not always been the case with the winger as he has often blown hot and cold for the Magpies. After scoring his first ever goal for the club many fans were hoping to see his customary Spiderman celebration. But they were left disappointed after waiting for so long to see it as Gutierrez had been upset with rumours linking him with a move away from Tyneside. He said: “I did not celebrate because there was speculation that I wanted to leave on websites. I do not know who said it but it is incredible because I never said nothing. It is a shame because I have waited a long time to score. I wanted to show the Spiderman mask. I had it with me but I left it in the changing rooms for these reasons because I saw these words on some websites and I was not happy. When I score my next goal for sure I will take out the Spiderman mask.” Hopefully it won’t be another 16 month wait for Gutierrez’s next goal. Having been withdrawn after only 20 minutes with a thigh strain he may now be withdrawn from Argentina’s friendly matches.
Newcastle’s other goalscorers also enjoyed impressive performances that were capped by their goals. Andy Carroll scored his fourth goal of the season with a trademark bullet header from a corner. The responsibility of leading his team’s attack has worked well with Carroll improving with every game. A tally of four goals for the season is slightly misleading as Carroll brings so much more than goals to the team. His build up play and first touch have improved from last season and there have been transfer rumours linking him with Premier League clubs. Full back Danny Simpson joined Gutierrez in netting his first for the club but only he will know if it was a cross or a shot. Simpson has looked a lot more comfortable since moving back to his trademark right back slot from a central position.
Overall, manager Chris Hughton was pleased with the performance and how his team avoided the off the field distractions. He said: “I think what people will remember today is that we have a great support that got behind the team and we won 3-1, and all my thoughts and focuses are with that. We have a team that is focused on being at the right end of the table. We had a good start to the season and that gave us the momentum to believe we could sustain where we are at this particular time.”