ROB’S MATCH REPORT
Newcastle United 3
West Ham United 0
Mitrovic (on for Joselu, 71) 7
Diame (on for Hayden, 82) N/A
Murphy (on for Ritchie, 88) N/A
A much needed win for Newcastle, and a deserved one at that. The game took a while to get going with not a lot of goalmouth action in the first half. On 16 minutes, Atsu forced a corner after his header from Joselu’s cross was deflected wide and Mbemba had a speculative effort from 20 yards, just over, following said corner. West Ham came into the game a bit between 20-30 minutes but were limited to shots from outside the box, none of which troubled Rob Elliot.
On 36 minutes, the deadlock was finally broken when Atsu sprinted to recover a slightly heavy pass from Merino. His cross was met bu Joselu, who was able to tap the ball in under pressure from the West Ham defence for 1-0.
Merino almost doubled the lead a few minutes later after a great through-ball from Mbemba but his effort was well saved. Atsu also tested Joe Hart just before the break, but the England ‘keeper saved and held with ease.
The second half was much the same, though with a few more chances. Newcastle dominated the possession an Perez didn’t take long to make Hart work again. On 52 minutes, slack defending nearly cost us a goal when Manquillo was caught out of position and West Ham were able to break on the left hand side. After the first effort, one of the West Ham forwards was faced with a simple tap-in but couldn’t convert, as the ball was cleared off the line by Ciaran Clark.
On 63 minutes, the referee played advantage after Perez was fouled. Ritchie picked up the loose ball and charged forward before curling a shot between the legs of a defender but Joe Hart was equal to it. Joselu had the rebound snatched away from him at the last second.
Goalscorer Joselu was subbed off for Mitrovic on 71 minutes and the Serb took over nicely with decent hold-up play and lay-offs. Seconds after, Newcastle’s lead doubled when Matt Ritchie skinned a couple of defenders and crossed for Ciaran Clark who had snuck in between two defenders. Clark’s header hit the left post before it hit the net. Well taken, but very poor defending from West Ham.
On 76 minutes, Mbemba embarked on a cracking run up the left hand side and when his cross fell to Matt Ritchie, a last ditch block saw what would’ve been a certain goal deflected wide. Shortly afterwards, Merino escaped from a double-up to cross for Mitrovic who headed narrowly over the bar.
A defensive mistake almost gifted Perez a tap-in on 79, but somehow he managed to pass it onto the post and out. Diame then replaced Hayden on 82 minutes. On 85 minutes, Merino played a superb through-ball to release Mitrovic who really should have scored when one-on-one with Hart, but he smashed his shot straight at the dandruff-free goalie.
Only a minute later, though, he redeemed himself in almost the exact same situation. Perez got the final touch on the through-ball after more slackness from Hart and the West Ham defence; this time Mitrovic had more time to compose himself and he rounded the keeper before passing the ball into the net for 3-0.
Murphy replaced Ritchie on 88 minutes and that was the last notable action really – a standing ovation for the winger who had had a brilliant game.
Honourable mentions… Mbemba did a great job at left-back despite being out of position – he was caused a few problems by West Ham’s Michail Antonio, by far West Ham’s best player, especially in the first half. Merino’s tackling was outstanding and he bossed the midfield – certainly a worthwhile replacement for Shelvey in the short-term and leaving the Geordie faithful with watering mouths at the prospect of seeing him and Shelvey together. Manquillo had a MUCH better game, especially in the first half when he was arguably the best player on the field. Second half though, he was caught out of position a couple of times. There is potential there, for sure, but he needs to work on his positioning.
Perez looked very sharp and chased everything down, but had a couple of chances to finish and couldn’t hit the target. Joselu held up everything in the final third and did well for the goal… didn’t really put a foot wrong, but there was one other who outshone him today…
Man of the Match: Matt Ritchie. Just utterly, utterly brilliant from the beginning. Was unlucky not to score a couple of times, every first touch was gold, and his assist was only one of about a dozen incisive passes that ripped the West Ham defence open on several occasions.
Let’s hope this properly kick starts the season, now.