Last Tuesday marked the first in a string of tough fixtures for Newcastle, starting with Brighton away. After a poor start and conceding a 14′ penalty things weren’t looking good for Benitez’s side, until the final 10 minutes in which they scored two goals- just clinching a vital 3 points and staking their claim to top spot on the table.
On Saturday they played fellow promotion rivals Huddersfield who were looking confident after poaching five wins from their previous six Championship games- including victories against Reading, Leeds and Brighton. The Magpies were fortunate at the start of the match with Matt Ritchie being awarded a soft penalty for being lightly clipped in the box, just after a potential hand ball from Jonjo Shelvey- understandably leaving many Huddersfield fans hard done by.
The second goal from Daryl Murphy was also a controversial incident as he faced Ward in a one-on-one whereby the goalkeeper seemingly lost control of the ball as Murphy lost his footing and after a scramble the ball ended up in the back of the net. At half time it transpired that Ward had injured his hand in the ruckus and had to be subbed off for Joel Coleman- something they would later pay for.
In the 72′ Huddersfield found justice after Kachunga went down in the box as a result of a slight lean from Shelvey and was awarded a penalty, which Mooy calmly slotted into the bottom corner. With the score tight and the possession firmly in Huddersfield’s favour, it was looking as though they might manage to clinch a draw if they kept pressing and pulled off a decent shot.
Unfortunately for David Wagner, when his team got a corner in the first minute of the 4 minute injury time the substitute goalie Coleman decided to venture into the Newcastle box in order to help even the scoreline, but instead made them vulnerable to the counter attack. The first attempt was diffused by a clearance from Hogg, but once the ball met the feet of Ciaran Clark he played a long ball up to Gayle only to be mis-headed by Coleman who knocked it behind for Dwight to run onto and head it home.
The match stats show that Huddersfield dominated possession at 76% but what Newcastle did with their share proved more fruitful in the end, and if it wasn’t for a couple of goalkeeping slip-ups then the game would’ve been very tight right until the final whistle.
Having secured a draw against Reading on Tuesday, Newcastle fans may be even more confident of automatic promotion now that their difficult spell of games against top teams is over.