Newcastle gained another 3 points at home against Everton Saturday, holding on for a 2-1 win. It was an ugly win, but it was the sort we've almost come to expect.
John Heitinga opened the scoring, tallying an own goal as he stretched for a Danny Simpson cross that was headed straight for Tim Howard's arms. Ryan Taylor pushed the advantage to 2-0 with a wonder goal from the left side of the box. His right footed volley curled over Tim Howard, brushed the crossbar, and landed in the upper 90 on the far side. It looked for all the world like that would be the scoreline going into the half, but a corner by Royston Drenthe resulted in a near side headed goal by Jack Rodwell, who had been marked by Simpson.
The second half was ugly for both teams. At one point, Derek Rae called it "flat, bitter football," which is a bit harsh, but I'll concede that I can't really think of a better way to describe it. Neither team was able to take control of the midfield, and the result was a box-to-box affair that nevertheless saw very few real chances on either end. The game got rather chippy - 5 yellow cards were handed out in the second half, 2 to Newcastle. Perhaps most notably for Everton supporters, a handball in the box by former Toffee Dan Gosling went ignored by referee Andre Marriner.
In the midst of all this, 2 more Newcastle midfielders were lost to injury, as both Yohan Cabaye and Sylvain Marveaux were substituted off with what appeared to be groin injuries (though I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Marveaux's was more about getting spiked in the hamstring).
Newcastle played a sloppy game, one they won't get away with at any point in the next 3, but it's nice to go into yet another international break with a win, knowing that after their injured stars get rested up, a meaty test awaits. We'll learn a lot about this team in the next 4 weeks, but for now, I feel good that they have succeeded in earning points when they should have.