Come on Wilfried Bony, score some goals for Swansea! Yes, a stoppage time penalty from the Big Man, ensured the Swans came away from St James Park with all 3 points. The win moved us 6 points clear of the Redbirds who still sit in the dreaded drop zone with 3 games left to play. We are not laughing, honest!
On a sunny but cold day on Tyneside (no fog on the Tyne today – sorry, cheap joke), Manager Garry Monk made 2 changes to the starting line-up, bringing in Jonathan De Guzman and Jordi Amat for Nathan Dyer and Chico Flores. Chico was of course missing following his sending off against Chelsea last weekend. There was a place on the bench again for young midfielder Jay Fulton, who was joined by Kyle Bartley following his recent return from injury.
Newcastle came into the game off the back of a 4 game losing streak, during which they had not scored a single goal. Add to this the recent touchline ban for Manager Alan Pardew following his headbutt on Hull City’s David Meyler and major unrest on the training ground (we know a bit about that ourselves) and you can understand why the Geordie fans have been getting agitated of late. In Pardew’s enforced absence in the stands, number 2 John Carver was on the touchline.
As usual, the Swans started brightly, with Leon and Jonjo taking control of the centre of the park and Angel Rangel, Jonathan De Guzman and Palbo Hernandez raiding down the right flank. Indeed, the first decent chance of the game fell to the Swans, as a huge throw by Rangel (must have been on the Shredded Wheat, because I’ve never seen him chuck the ball like that before) on 9 minutes was only half cleared by the Newcastle defence and Shelvey rose to head wide, with the ball catching a Newcastle defender on the way for a corner.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Newcastle striker Cisse limped off to be replaced by French international Debuchy. This change forced home Manager Pardew to revert from a back 3 to a traditional 4-4-2, a change in formation that seemed to give Newcastle a better shape and more attacking momentum.
22 minutes into the game, the home side struck the first blow, with what was their only attack of any note to date. Frustratingly, it was poor defending yet again by the Swans that gifted Newcastle a goal. Centre forward Ameobi bullied Jordi Amat of the ball, before continuing his run and shrugging Ben Davies out of the way, to slot home past Michel Vorm.
2 minutes later, referee Chris Foy left the field of play to be replaced by 4th official Anthony Taylor. Foy took a ball in the face in the first couple of minutes of the game and failed to recover. Usually, I would be glad to see the back of Foy, but Taylor is an inexperienced referee at Premier League level, so there was cause for concern (and he looks like Sally Webster’s latest beau in Coronation Street). However, “ye of little faith”, since having only been on the field for 30 seconds, Taylor booked Debuchy for flooring Wayne Routledge. In fairness, it was the right decision.
Newcastle continued to look dangerous on the wings and appeared to have done their homework on the 2 Swans full backs. Ben Davies, in particular was being pulled out of position by Debuchy, with Gouffran and Gosling running into the space behind him. Despite, this possession, a second goal for the home side didn’t look likely.
The Swans had a couple of half chances before the break. First Wilfried Bony robbed Tiote and shot wide from 25 yards. Then Jonjo Shelvey hit a 30 yard free kick well wide of Tim Krul’s goal after a Paul Dummett foul on Hernandez. Realistically, it was too far out to shoot, but then you never know with Shelvey!
Then right on half time, we were level. Ben Davies hit a great corner into the Newcastle box, with plenty of pace. Bony attacked the ball and proved far too strong for centre back Williamson and buried his header into the back of the net. Until this point, our delivery into the box had been poor, but this was a tremendous ball by Ben and a cracking finish by the big man. The Swans fans who had been loud throughout the first half, despite needing binoculars to see the pitch from the away end, went mad!
After the break, it was the home side that started the strongest, with Loic Remy, who had replaced the injured De Jong towards the end of the first half, in particular looking dangerous. On 55 minutes, Dummett cut inside and shot weakly at Vorm. Then, with Davies beaten, Debuchy shot wide from a cross from the right hand flank. Gosling also headed wide 3 minutes later, with Newcastle now turning the screw.
The home side had yet another chance when Anita shot narrowly wide, following a free kick which referee Taylor bizarrely gave to the home side regardless of the fact that Tiote appeared to poleaxe Pablo Hernandez. Remy also shot wide, having been given too much space by Rangel, with the ball moving viciously in the air and over Michel Vorm’s bar / post.
Then it was the Swans turn to sparkle a bit, with Wayne Routledge putting both of the Newcastle full backs under pressure with his trademark runs. Goalkeeper, Tim Krul should also have been booked or even sent off for palming Routs in the face when Ben Davies was about to take a corner. In fairness to Routs, he stayed on his feet when many other players would have hit the deck. In fact, it was lucky for Mr Krul, that the player involved wasn’t a certain Spaniard with a new George Michael hairdo as he would still be on the floor now!
With 80 minutes on the clock, both Managers decided to make a change, one which was to prove far more decisive for the Swans as it turned out. Marvin Emnes replaced Pablo Hernandez for us, while highly rated 17 year old Adam Armstrong made his home debut for the Geordies.
Emnes made an immediate impression, playing Bony in on goal with only Tim Krul to beat. Krul came out quickly and saved well. Then, with the game into added time, Emnes broke into the Newcastle penalty area, with a number of Newcastle defenders around him. Showing his strength, he surged between the home defenders before being felled. Referee Taylor showed no hesitation and correctly gave the penalty.
Over to Daddy Cool! Big Wilf took his time with the spot kick, and firmly slotted the ball into the corner with a perfect finish. Cue rapturous behaviour from the traveling Jacks, who won’t mind the 350 mile return journey one bit.
In summary, this wasn’t a game for the purists, as both sides lacked quality. However, who cares, as this was massive result for us. Huge credit again to Bony, who showed his class with 2 cracking goals, well done Sir!
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Vorm 7, Rangel 6, Davies 6, Amat 6, Williams 7, Britton 7, De Guzman 6, Shelvey 7, Hernandez 6 (Emnes 7), Routledge 7 (Bartley NA), Bony 8. Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Taylor, Fulton, Dyer Ngog.
Swans’ man of the match: Wilfried Bony
Scorers: Wilfried Bony 2
Newcastle: Krul 6, Anita 6, Drummett 6, Coloccini 5, Williamson 5, De Jong 5 (Remy 7), Gosling 6 (Armstrong 6), Tiote 6, Ameobi 7, Cisse 5 (Debuchy 6), Gouffran 5. Unused substitutes: Elliott, Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Haidara.
Newcastle man of the match: Shola Ameobi
Scorers: Shola Ameobi
Possession stats: Swansea 53% Newcastle 47%.
The match referee: Chris Foy 6. Foy has been officiating in the Premier League since 2001 and boy does he love a card, racking up a mammoth 33 red and 652 yellow in the top flight before the start of the game. However, he only lasted half an hour of this game and was replaced by Anthony Taylor, who although less experienced, also likes to flash the cards (a red every 5 games). Taylor got the big decisions right and didn’t bottle the penalty, when other referees would have, so he’s worth an 8 out of 10!