Newcastle Club Focus – Magpies stunned by second half fightback

Newcastle’s hopes of achieving a place in the top four were dented by a dramatic comeback by relegation threatened Wolves.

In the build up to the weekend’s game much of the talk had been about how the Magpies were capable of upsetting the established order come the end of the season with 13 ‘cup finals’ left to play. But by carelessly letting a two goal lead slip Newcastle showed they are still very much a work in progress. With the three teams closest to the Magpies all enjoying successful weekends it has highlighted the task Newcastle face in breaking into the top four.

Things appeared to be going to plan as Alan Pardew’s side cruised into a 2-0 lead within the opening quarter of the match thanks to goals from new signing Papiss Cisse and Jonas Gutierrez. However instead of going for the jugular and killing of the game early the opposition were allowed back into the match. From leading by two clear goals Newcastle were happy to allow Wolves to have most of the possession and protect their winning position. Matthew Jarvis’ deflected strike changed the complexion of the game as panic began to set in for the home side and the crowd became more anxious. To the away side’s credit they deserved to take something from the game and they showed they are firmly behind the shock appointment of Terry Connor.

One of Alan Pardew’s biggest concerns will be how his side have started conceding goals on a regular basis. Early in the season Newcastle had the tightest back four in the league with only seven goals conceded from their opening ten matches. However in the past five games the team have leaked 13 goals, alarmingly with five goals conceded on two separate occasions. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for this was the absence of Steven Taylor with the Englishman in the form of his life before an untimely injury curtailed his season.

Another possible reason is that the Magpies’ back four has been much changed since their unbeaten start to the season as Mike Williamson and Davide Santon have become regular starters. The normally reliable Williamson has been below par in recent games but with no other options in the squad there is no way of taking him out of the firing line. Italian international Santon was one of the best performers against Wolves although at times this season his defending has not been the most convincing. Since replacing the versatile Ryan Taylor at left back he has been a more dynamic option in an attacking sense but perhaps not as reliable defensively. These are problems Pardew must deal with ahead of a massive North East derby next weekend.

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