The month opened with a home match against QPR. Newcastle led the match for almost 40 minutes until Ciaran Clark headed the ball into the back of his own net in the 90th minute. Sickening. After that was another home match but against Derby. A massively deflected goal from Matt Ritchie was enough to make the difference.
Next was an away match against Wolves. Mitrovic got on the scoreline although there was a strong case for him to be sent off. A heroic man of the match performance from Lascelles shut out Wolves down the other end and the match ended 1-0. Newcastle stayed top of the table after a 2-2 draw with Norwich. Ayoze scored after less than 30 seconds but Murphy equalised and after a terrible mistake from Darlow, Jerome put Norwich ahead. Luckily a late volley from Lascelles salvaged a point.
The next match was against also relegated Aston Villa. Dwight Gayle, unfortunately, limped off after returning from injury but Gouffran and a Lansbury own goal secured the 3 points. In the next match, Newcastle made it as hard as possible for them as they found themselves 2-0 down to Bristol City after 20 minutes. But thankfully, a Smith own goal and late Clark goal secured a point.
Next up was one of the highlights of the season against Brighton. Newcastle were 1-0 down after 15 minutes and trailed for 80 minutes. But in the 80th minute, Diame scored the flukiest goal you’ll ever see. The ball bounced off his leg and somehow found its way into the net. Then, in the 90th minute, Atsu squares the ball to Perez who slots it past Stockdale. Absolute scenes.
March started with an away trip to Huddersfield. Ritchie, Gayle and Murphy all got on the scoresheet and the only reply Huddersfield could muster was a Mooy penalty. After a run of tricky fixtures, Newcastle drew 0-0 with Reading although this still kept them three points clear of second.
Eventually, this good run had to come to an end and it did against Fulham. One from Cairney and two from Sessegnon sealed the match. Murphy got a consolation but the damage had already been done. Newcastle’s winless run continued as they failed to break the deadlock against Birmingham. A masterclass from keeper Kuszczak denied every shot coming his way.
The winless run was broken with a 2-1 win over Wigan. Gayle’s 22nd of the season put Newcastle ahead but Michael Jacobs canceled that out 15 minutes later. Matt Ritchie struck with 30 minutes to go and bag another three points for United. The Toon faced Burton next in a match that was overshadowed by a bizarre refereeing decision. Newcastle were awarded a penalty, Ritchie put it away, life was good. But referee Keith Stroud saw someone encroachment in the box and disallowed the penalty. Instead of retaking the penalty, like what should’ve happened, the ref ordered a freekick to Burton. Thankfully, Ritchie scored a lovely goal to put Newcastle 1-0 up.
Next came one of the most disappointing performances of the season. A 2-1 win against Sheffield Wednesday, the defence was all over the shop and the attack wasn’t firing. The title wasn’t looking likely. A chance to redeem themselves came next with a home match against Leeds. Newcastle dominated the match and could’ve scored three or four but only got one in the end. But in the 95th minute, Chris Wood found himself unmarked and put the ball past Darlow. Sickening, just sickening. As if things couldn’t get worse, Ipswich came and put three past Newcastle. An absolute shambles of a performance. By now, I was sure we had bottled the title, how wrong I was.
Finally, the day had arrived, a chance to secure promotion against Preston. Ayoze put Newcastle 1-0 up but Preston quickly equalised. Just before half time, Atsu restored the lead and then Ritchie added to the scoresheet with a penalty, there was no catching Newcastle at this point. Just to add insult to injury, the ball bounced off Perez and into the goal (I don’t think even he knew what happened) to put Newcastle 4-1 up. Promotion at last. The last away game was upon us and it was against Cardiff. A beautiful freekick from Atsu put Newcastle 1-0 up, cool as you like. Hayden then doubled the scoreline to put the result past any doubt. With Brighton losing their last game to Norwich and then going on to lose to Bristol, the title race had been blown wide open.
The last day of the season, a day of triumph and heartbreak. Would Newcastle claim the title? Ayoze got Newcastle going with a brilliantly flicked goal and Mbemba doubled the lead just over 35 minutes later. Dwight Gayle, who came on with 20 minutes to go, scored his 22nd of the season to put the game to bed. Newcastle had done all they could possibly do but Brighton were still beating Aston Villa, as it stood Brighton were winning the league. But in the 90th minute, Jack Grealish powered a shot towards Stockdale who fumbled the ball into his own net to tie the match. Newcastle had won the league on the last day, in the last minute. Raptures. Truly a magnificent end to a magnificent season.
Feature image credit: Martin Le Roy