Up And Running At Third Attempt

Newcastle Hit 4 Past Reading To Register First Win

The scoreline may have flattered us slightly but I doubt you will find many Newcastle fans too bothered about that as we beat Reading 4-1 at St James' Park on Wednesday night to register our first win of the season and hopefully get our season up and running.

As I said in my preview for this one this was a game where really the performance wasn't too important as long as we came away with the 3 points.

Another failure to get a win would have seen the pressure ramp up on Rafa Benitez and his players after the disappointment of the first 2 games.

Of course there is no pressure whatsoever on the Spaniards job as he continues to try get his squad assembled etc but this first win was needed just to settle a few nerves.

Once again the manager made some big selection calls as he continues to tinker with things with skipper Lascelles and Janmaat surprise absentees from the starting line up as Anita moved to right back and Clark got a debut alongside Mbemba.

Another surprise was sprung when Yoan Gouffran was brought in from the wilderness to start the game but to be fair to him I think he did ok and certainly gave a bit more balance out wide than Anita had in previous games.

The game followed a fairly familiar pattern for us as we started quite brightly and only a bizarre decision from the officials prevented Dwight Gayle giving us an early lead from an excellent Perez centre.

Unfortunately the referee seemed to listen to Reading protests about a handball and disallowed the goal. Now don't get me wrong here, on replay the ball clearly hit Gayle's hand to put it in the net. I am not sure whether it was intentional and deserved a booking as I think he may have just totally misjudged the cross rather than anything deliberate but it clearly was a handball.

The annoying thing though is that the referee initially gave it and the linesman who had a good view didn't flag for any infringement. The Reading players then complain, the referee speaks to the linesman and it is disallowed. So the referee has either been swayed by the players or someone has had a word in his hear. I don't care if they got the decision right in the end, that shouldn't be allowed to happen under the current rules.

Anyway thankfully in the end it didn't effect the outcome and we took the lead not long after as the excellent Hayden reacted quickest in the box to fire home.

As ever though we let the opposition back into the game and Reading had decent spells of possession but just seemed to lack anything up top to really trouble us.

They did however crash an effort off the bar and force Sels into a decent save before equalising on the stroke of half time which is becoming an all too familiar scenario for us.

Clark miscontrolled in the box and as he went to make ammends he was adjudged to have brought the Reading player down. Personally I think it looked a bit harsh as he looked to get a bit on the ball but the referee gave it and McCleary stroked it home.

It was a penalty apiece though 5 minutes after the break as the referee saw some pulling from a corner as Gouffran ended up on the floor - one of those for me that could go either way but I think the ref may have been evening things up a touch after the one he gave against us and after Gayle's miss at the weekend the impressive Ritchie took the ball to fire it into the corner and put us ahead.

We have had a tendancy over recent times to not kill games off and there was always a worry the same could happen here but thankfully a wonderful Gayle free kick on 69 minutes gave us some breathing space and he then tapped in from a Hayden cross in the last minute to seal the win and really raise the spirits of everyone.

A bit of a funny game really. Like I say Reading were not awful by any stretch and we were far from great but at the same time we did miss a couple of other decent chances to add to the scoreline.

I think this performance showed that at time this season even if we don't play great we have enough quality in the side to just win us games with individual quality.

We just need to try to make sure we are not relying on that happening every week and try to get a style of play together that lets us go and win games as a team.

Hopefully this result can be used as a springboard and with some of the performances last night the manager will have yet more decisions to make for selection at the weekend.

I thought Anita did well at right back but thought Clark looked a bit shaky although it was obviously his first game.

Gouffran put in a decent shift too and certainly was an improvement on playing Anita there so could be a good alternative until we hopefully get another winger in.

Man of the match was a close one between Ritchie and Hayden for me but I would probably go with the former Arsenal man after a goal and an assist which isn't bad for a defensive midfielder. He looks a real steal to be honest.

Ritchie just never stops working which was great to see and with a bit more service and support Dwight Gayle also started to show what he has got which all bodes well even if there is still clearly some work to be done.

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