NEWCASTLE: It has come to one thing when Newcastle United, the staff that would not purchase a win in late 2021, are claiming three factors regardless of not taking part in effectively.
Nevertheless, that’s precisely what they did at St. James’ Park as they noticed off prime half Brighton & Hove Albion to make it eight video games unbeaten within the prime flight, their longest unbeaten run since late 2011.
Most significantly, although, these three factors, coupled with defeat for Burnley in opposition to Chelsea, stretched their hole to the underside three to seven factors, that means a brighter future, a Premier League future, feels inside touching distance.
The Magpies’ win was sealed within the opening 45 as man-of-the-moment Ryan Fraser netted solely his third purpose in black and white from shut vary early doorways.
Fraser then turned supplier as Fabian Schar nodded in a free kick to ship St. James’ Park into raptures.
Brighton did reply within the second half as Lewis Dunk beat Martin Dubravka to the soar to half the deficit, however the guests couldn’t muster a deserved second regardless of loads of late huff and puff.
Profitable ugly shouldn’t be one thing Newcastle followers are all that accustomed to, however they’ll take all of it the identical.
Regardless of the return of Allan Saint-Maximin to the squad registering early headlines, the Frenchman might solely win a spot on the bench with Eddie Howe going unchanged for the third Premier League sport in succession.
Whereas Graham Potter’s aspect have been simply the extra fluent and straightforward on the attention, Newcastle proved the extra medical within the first half.
Newcastle’s midfield, so spectacular in controlling proceedings in opposition to West Ham and Brentford, didn’t have issues all their very own manner in opposition to the Seagulls, who moved the ball from left to proper, with overlapping fullbacks, at will.
Nevertheless, that strategy did go away gaps on the again, and United have been in no temper to let that go unexploited.
Fraser, nominated for the Premier League participant of the month, was a relentless thorn within the opposition aspect, and it was he whose lung-busting run was rewarded along with his second purpose of the season.
With Brighton hemming Newcastle into their very own half and simply trying the extra more likely to rating, a sensible flip and cross by Chris Wooden, in what was his most spectacular efficiency since arriving, unleashed pacey Jacob Murphy by way of the center.
Exhibiting the Brighton backline a clear set of heels, the wideman solely had the keeper to beat, and whereas his chipped end rebounded again off the publish, Fraser, who had burst ahead in help, was rewarded with the simplest of finishes as he finessed previous quite a lot of sprawling Brighton our bodies on the road.
If the primary felt prefer it was a blow in opposition to the run of play, the second was much more of a shock.
Inside minutes the Magpies received a free kick on the correct, and swinging within the middle was Fraser for Schar, whose striker-like dart away from a defender noticed him meet the cross powerfully, beating Robert Sanchez at his entrance publish.
To that time, it was onerous to argue that Newcastle deserved the lead, however given their season’s plight, they’re removed from undeserving of a slice of luck and goodwill.
On the half hour the guests, smarting from their defensive capitulation, seemed to chunk again. A poor ball from Joelinton, a uncommon slip, allowed Brighton to interrupt, and having been performed in, Danny Welbeck’s effort was met with the robust body of Martin Dubravka, who diverted over the bar.
Two targets down, Brighton continued to play their soccer, however the possibilities, in the principle, fell the best way of Newcastle.
On the eve of the break, a slip by goal-scorer Dunk allowed Murphy the possibility to internet a 3rd, however his left-footed effort was weak and straightforward for Sanchez to assert.
After the break, little modified by way of the circulation of this one, with Newcastle pinned again and Brighton the aggressor.
Their lifeline got here at 55 minutes when Dunk rose above Dubravka to move in for 2-1. Cue a St. James’ Park siege as wave after wave of Brighton forays ahead have been repelled by Emil Krafth and the more and more spectacular Dan Burn.
Seeking to relieve the strain, Howe turned to Saint-Maximin and record-signing Bruno Guimaraes off the bench. It did little to stem the circulation of Brighton assaults.
Leandro Trossard, so usually a game-changer in opposition to the Magpies, pressured Dubravka right into a low cease as time ticked away.
However with the house crowd roaring them on, Newcastle held robust to climb to twenty-eight factors from 26 video games this season, the primary time they’ve been forward of the curve with regards to factors per sport this marketing campaign.
And lengthy could it proceed. This was a efficiency for the purists. It lacked the swagger of the West Ham draw, the slicing fringe of Everton or Aston Villa, even the management of Brentford final week. However there was one factor it didn’t lack: Coronary heart.
Underneath Howe, there’s a lot to love about this United aspect, who appear to be a staff remodeled from the one which limped into 2022 with a defeat in opposition to League One Cambridge United.
They aren’t the completed article, of that there isn’t a doubt, however what staff ever is? Properly, bar Manchester Metropolis perhaps, or prime Pep Guardiola Barcelona.
This staff, and Howe, are studying on the job, and having mastered the artwork of profitable within the Premier League, the one manner feels up for United, on and off the park.