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Peterborough United 2 Newcastle United 3
Published : 05 Apr 2010 10:30:00Rss feed
Peterborough United 2 Newcastle United 3 SO in the end, Peterborough in 2010 did not join a list that includes Grimsby in 1993 and Huddersfield in 1984. In the past, Newcastle have tended to secure promotion at provincial outposts that find themselves overrun by hordes of black-and-white clad supporters for the day, but this time around, for the first time since 1965, the Magpies have the chance to do it in front of their own fans. Surely, it is better that way. A sense of anti-climax accompanied the club's 25th victory of the campaign, but it will be swiftly forgotten if a 26th is added when Sheffield United visit Gallowgate tonight. Nottingham Forest's 1-1 draw at Bristol City might have rendered Newcastle's 3- 2 win at London Road insufficient to guarantee promotion, but even a club as adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as the Magpies is incapable of messing this one up. There's a sense of anticipation because we feel as though we're going back to St James' to finish the job, said manager Chris Hughton. It's in our hands, and hopefully we can finish it off. If Newcastle reproduce the swashbuckling form that has seen them score 18 goals in their last five home games, they should have few problems seeing off a Sheffield United side that have failed to win any of their last nine away from Bramall Lane. But for all of their flamboyance at St James' Park, ultimately it is matches such as Saturday's that explain why the Magpies have bounced back into the top-flight at the first time of asking. Gritty, unglamorous encounters, played on a pudding of a pitch, of the sort that was supposed to be anathema to the Premier League prima donnas Newcastle retained following their relegation last season. In the opening three months of the campaign, defeats at Blackpool and Scunthorpe hinted at a frailty that might have undermined the Magpies' promotion push. But since losing at Glanford Park in October, Newcastle have travelled to Sheffield United, Preston, Watford, Doncaster and now Peterborough and emerged with a precious one-goal win. Few performances were memorable, even less were up to the standards that will be required next season, but all played a pivotal role in the promotion campaign. Resilience is an attribute that has rarely been associated with previous Newcastle sides, but the current team boasts a steely streak that has enabled it to adapt to life in a lower tier. It was a tough game, but we've come through it once again, said Shola Ameobi, whose tenth goal of the season helped the Magpies overcome the concession of a sloppy first-half strike to record an ultimately comfortable success. That's the professionalism we've got at this club now. We know it's not always going to go our way, but over the course of 90 minutes you have to stay positive and that's what we did. When it's not going well, you have to find another way to win the game, and we've been able to do that pretty well all season. An ability to chop and change the squad has also been crucial to Newcastle's success, with Hughton benefiting from a depth of talent that is not apparent at most of the club's promotion rivals. The Magpies manager has been able to rest players when necessary and cover for the absences that inevitably accompany such an arduous campaign, but for the opening half of Saturday's match, it briefly looked as though he had taken his tinkering too far. Five players were rested from the side that had beaten Nottingham Forest five days earlier, and Newcastle's firsthalf performance was as laboured as anything they have produced all season. It contained a defensive howler that handed Peterborough an opening goal on a plate, with Steve Harper kicking Fabricio Coloccini instead of the ball as he attempted to clear from outside his area, and midfielder Dominic Green lobbing into an unguarded net. But, on the stroke of halftime, it also contained an equaliser, with Kevin Nolan bursting into the box to bundle home Jose Enrique's low cross from close range. Undeservedly level at the break, Newcastle stepped things up after the interval to score two more goals in the opening 15 minutes of the half. The identity of the first scorer was surely pre-destined, with Joey Barton bending home a deft free-kick as he made his first start since mid- September. Not, however, that Hughton saw it that way. I don't know if it was inevitable Joey would score after his set pieces in the first half, he joked. I think we were all quite surprised to see it go in actually. But he worked hard in the game and it's just a case of him getting back used to the feel of things. He's been training for five weeks now and is part of this squad. I don't think he has a point to prove he's a good footballer. He hasn't played enough football, that's the difficulty. Everyone wants to prove they are a good player on a regular basis and unfortunately he has not played enough. Ameobi extended Newcastle's lead further with a 20- yard strike that goalkeeper Joe Lewis failed to keep out and, like Barton, the striker has five more matches to show what the Magpies have been missing for the majority of the campaign. I've come back in, scored a couple of goals, and as a striker you're always happy when that happens, said Ameobi. I've been out for a while now and I've dropped down the pecking order, but I'm just delighted to be part of this promotion push. Liam Dickinson's 76thminute strike reduced Peterborough's arrears, but Newcastle never looked like ceding a winning position that wasn't quite enough to guarantee promotion. For that, attention now switches to St James'. Let the party begin. Match facts Goals: 1-0: Green (11mins, lobbed into empty net after Harper committed a howler attempting to clear) 1-1: Nolan (45, bundled home from close range after Enrique delivered low cross from left) 1-2: Barton (48, curled 22-yard freekick into bottom left-hand corner) 1-3: Ameobi (59, drilled home from the corner of the penalty box via the inside of the post) 2-3: Dickinson (76, shot home from close range after Nolan inadvertently flicked on Geohaghon's long throw) Bookings: Zakuani (48mins, foul), Gutierrez (90, foul) Referee: Mark Haywood (Wakefield) Might have been less lenient when Joey Barton appeared to tangle with an opponent in the second half 5 Attendance: 12,877 Entertainment: PETERBOROUGH (4-5-1): Lewis 5; Gilbert 5, Zakuani 4, Geohaghon 6, Griffiths 5; Rowe 5, Frecklington 6, Green 6 (Simpson 46, 5), LEE 7 (Bennett 56, 5), Torres 6 (Mackail-Smith 46, 5); Dickinson 5. Subs (not used): McKeown (gk), Day, Mills, Reid. NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): 5 Harper: Uncharacteristic error contributed to Peterborough's opening goal 6 Simpson: As steady as ever defensively and offered plenty of energy in attack 7 Williamson: Grows increasingly composed with every display 6 Coloccini: Got in a tangle with Harper early on, but defended much better after that 8 Enrique: His drive, energy and invention has been a major feature of Newcastle's success this season 4 Pancrate: Another poor display from a player who will surely be released at the end of the season 6 Smith: Kept things neat and tidy as he dislodged Guthrie to return to the heart of midfield 8 NOLAN: Carried the fight on his own in the first half and turned the game with yet another goal 7 Barton: Got better as the game went on and proved his class with a wonderful free-kick 5 Best: It just hasn't happened for him and this was another frustratingly anonymous display 7 Ameobi: Produced an excellent finish to score and, on his day, remains the best finisher in the squad Subs: Routledge (for Pancrate, 46): His pace made a difference after he was introduced at half-time 7 Butt (for Ameobi, 83) Gutierrez (for Barton, 87) (not used): Krul (gk), Kadar, R Taylor, Lovenkrands. MAN OF THE MATCH KEVIN Nolan the midfielder typifies the desire and will to win that has coursed through Newcastle's veins all season.