April 25, 1992: The goal that saved Newcastle United from possible extinction

Newcastle saviour David Kelly.
Newcastle saviour David Kelly.

Newcastle United loanee Christian Atsu may well have written himself into black and white folklore with the goal which has clinched the club promotion back to the Premier League.

But his 44th-minute strike in the Magpies' 4-1 victory over Preston North End is unlikely to be as fondly remembered as one scored at the opposite end of St James's Park virtually a quarter of a century earlier.

Newcastle United were facing relegation to English football's third tier for the first time in their 100-year history when they faced Portsmouth on April 25, 1992, in their penultimate match of another dismal season.

While Metro Centre magnate Sir John Hall had completed a protracted takeover of the club, he had strongly hinted that his plans to transform the Magpies' fortunes would evaporate if they slipped into the old Division Three.

After enjoying an initial upsurge in form following former player Kevin Keegan's arrival as manager in February, five successive defeats had left Newcastle facing not just relegation but humiliation and even oblivion.

On a tense afternoon on Tyneside, however, David Kelly seized on strike partner Mike Quinn's clever flick to rifle home an 85th-minute right-footed winner from the edge of the box in front of a delighted Gallowgate End.

Suddenly the home side were a point ahead of Plymouth Argyle and out of the bottom three with just a game left.

A week later, with Plymouth's kick-off at home to Blackburn delayed, Newcastle travelled to promotion-seeking Leicester City unsure whether to play for a draw or chase a win.

As it was, an injury-time win courtesy of Steve Walsh's own goal proved irrelevant as Plymouth surrendered an early lead to lose 3-1.

In short, it was Kelly's strike a week earlier what done it.

Twelve months later Kelly, who joined Port Vale in a coaching capacity earlier this season, was at it again as he scored a hat-trick in a 7-1 demolition of Leicester as Keegan's now bankrolled side stormed to the top flight as champions of the new-look Division One.

While Newcastle may find themselves back where they started some 24 years later, subsequent glorious if trophy-less achievements - such as two FA Cup final appearances, two Premier League runners-up positions and Champions League triumphs over Barcelona and Juventus - would never have happened if it was not for Kelly's welcome eye for goal.