Yesterday, Newcastle beat Derby 1-0 to regain top spot in the Championship. With Brighton drawing with Brentford earlier today, Newcastle go one point of clear of their promotion rivals. A goal from Matt Ritchie was enough to bag all three points.
It was an unhappy return to St James’ for Steve McClaren as he saw his Derby side fall to defeat. The ex-Newcastle boss saw his side dominate throughout the second half but couldn’t find a way to score.
Rafa Benitez fielded a side with three changes from the one that drew 2-2 with QPR a few days ago. Darlow started in net; with Yedlin, Hanley, Clark, and Dummett in defence; Ritchie, Shelvey, Hayden and Gouffran started in the middle of the park and Diame and Mitrovic played up top in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
Whereas, Derby started a team with Carson, Baird, Keogh, Pearce and Olsson making up the back five; Butterfield, Johnson, and Bryson started in midfield and Ince, Bent, and Russell started in attack.
In their last five matches, Newcastle had won two times, drawn once and lost once. The 2-2 draw to QPR could’ve potentially given a huge hit to the squad’s morale as three points were snatched right at the very end in a cruel fashion. Plus the apparent unhappiness of Rafa at the club, which could affect the players and fans alike. However, with Benitez wanting to stay and fight for promotion, there’s nothing Newcastle fans need to be worried about at the minute.
Isaac Hayden got a chance 10 minutes into the game when some good linkup play got him enough space for a shot, unfortunately, the shot was tame and right at Carson. Diame got another chance when he surged through Derby’s defence but his shot was too far away to trouble the keeper. Matt Ritchie broke the deadlock 30 minutes in when his deflected shot looped over Carson, hold up play from Mitrovic made the goal happen. Still looking for another goal, Diame cracked off a powerful shot from in the box which Carson scrambled away.
Five minutes into the second half, Mitrovic found some space in the box but screwed his shot wide, a poor effort. Ten minutes from time, Ince had a perfect opportunity to level the scores when he went one on one with Darlow. The striker somehow managed to miss. How he didn’t score I do not know. In the dying moments of stoppage time, Derby got a corner which was headed towards goal and went past Darlow. Luckily, it reached the head of Yedlin before it hit the back of the net and was graciously cleared by Shelvey. A real heart-in-mouth moment.
Newcastle should count themselves a bit lucky not to have drawn this game as they were bailed out quite a few times. They did find Derby’s huge amount of pressure a bit troubling but came out on top with all three points which is what matters the most. Everything’s back to normal on Tyneside now.
Feature Image credit: Martin Le Roy