Well that was very odd. Like a match that had been cut into pieces and put together in a random order to inappropriate bits of soundtrack. Danny Drinkwater being effortlessly put through on goal in the opening seconds surprised everyone, not least him… like a cliffhanger in the opening minutes of a TV episode. He did a reasonable job with it, steering the ball wide of Grant, a significant obstacle all afternoon, if narrowly past the post. Then the frankly ridiculous own goal, which looped back into the net over Loach’s head painfully slowly as if time was bending to allow it to drop in whilst presenting the illusion, observed by my neighbour, that any of us had time to trot down to the front of the Rookery, step over the barrier, and amble around to block it on the line. Dale Bennett’s nerve seemed to rather decimate at this turn of events, perhaps contributing to a an extremely nervous first half which saw our defence creak and rattle and yet somehow not concede any more goals despite Burnley flinging bodies at any number of crosses… we got away with 1-1 at half time. The second half… from my vantage point we tightened up an awful lot. And yet lost two goals. One of these, just as the home crowd was up and riled and behind the team in voice for the first time following Danny Fox’s crude hack on Buckley. Fox’s last game for Coventry saw him dismissed at the Ricoh against us for a similarly violent challenge, from memory. Justice would have him red carded and Burnley caving in under our indignation. Instead, Burnley took the lead and cantered off. If there’s any consolation, it’s that Danny Fox presumably lives near Burnley.
Newcastle United completed a rich harvest from February when, in their sixth league match of the month, they took their tally to 13 points by overcoming a Watford side that was pretty in possession but toothless in front of goal. It was Newcastle’s first away win in six games since early December and extends their lead at the top of the division to six points, now from West Bromwich Albion.
And so the Newcastle juggernaut rolls on. What was remarkable about this victory was its almost complete lack of anything to remark on. Two goals, and a six-point lead at the top of Championship, compiled with the minimum of fuss.
The overriding emotion is one of frustration; dominance in the middle of the park is of limited value if you can’t defend a set piece, and don’t have the guile to unpick a defence. Enormously frustrating to see whatever neat passing we could fashion on what is suddenly a hugely unhelpful surface labour to create chances whilst free headers were being offered to Newcastle in our own box.