Even without a public prediction I expected a hard fought game. I expected for it to be a tactical battle, a competition of matchups. For 26 minutes the tie seemed to be just that. On that 26th minute something changed. Kevin Nolan once again found himself in the right place at the right time, and then he found himself at the bottom of a dog pile.
After going up 1-0 I was literally screaming at my screen for the lads not to protect this lead but to continue to attack. I wanted to see a "blood in the water" attitude, and on the 34th minute I was obliged. Nolan, again in the right place at the right time, hammered home from point blank and I started to notice how well this team plays after it gets an early goal. A penalty, converted by Shola Ameobi, in overage had us into the half up 3-0.
When the second half started I was feeling more comfortable about protecting the lead, but the lads continued to keep the pressure high. Titus Bramble suffered the most from that as he was sent off to a chorus on the 53rd minute, which really would have capped off a great day for most folks, but the lads were still not satisfied. Ameobi would be the beneficiary of that dissatisfaction in the 70th minute, and four minutes later The Skipper headed another one home. Have I mentioned that Kevin Nolan is a "right place, right time" scorer? No play better illustrates my point than this 74th minute goal. As Joey Barton's corner crossed in Nolan slid himself into a soft part of the defence, but he wouldn't be on the end of the cross in that spot. But, Shola rose to put a head on it and though he had not a chance to put in on goal at that height and angle he did have a chance to put it right into that soft spot that Kevin Nolan had sniffed out as the right place to be. At that point the Defence didn't have a chance to stop Captain Nolan from becoming Captain Hat Trick a feat not achieved in the derby since the year after my cohort and I were born.
Before I talk about form and starters let me first say that the Chris Hughton rumors have been in very poor form and I hope that this result goes a long way to shutting those shite peddlers up. Off soapbox. Hughton played the same side that faced West Ham a week ago, and much the same style. I was glad to see two attackers up front, and I hope to see more of it. He was dressed smart too, I like to see a coach on the touchline in a suit and tie, and not, say, a hoodie with the sleeves cut off.
Danny Simpson seems to be returning to good form, he looked a lot better than he did at West Ham. Not that he looked at all bad, he just seemed rusty. In fact the whole defense looked great, Colo and Willo are quite a pair, and Williamson has seemed to recover very nicely from his bad luck outing at ManC. Thought they did allow the consolation goal very late.
Tiote continues to hold down the midfeild like, well, I don't really have a good simile for what it is that he does on a weekly basis. He's just in top top form. Jonas did his thing on the left and Barton did his thing on the right, but obviously Kevin Nolan was the story of the midfield.
Andy Carroll had a quiet game, playing more the decoy to open up Shola and Nolan, but handled himself very well I thought. And Shola was Shola, with that lackadaisical approach that he has. I can see why people think he's lazy, but I think he just has an approach to the game that people don't quite understand. We will continue to defend him.
Man of the Match: Kevin Nolan, Obviously.
Beat. The. Mackems. And beat them we did. What a treat for all the Geordie boys out out there. By the way, this win put us 7th in the table! Howay the Lads.