Karl Darlow on the threat posed to Newcastle by Brighton '“ and THAT save against Rotherham
Karl Darlow says Newcastle United can't become preoccupied with Brighton and Hove Albion.
The club leads the Championship by one point following Saturday’s 4-0 win over Rotherham United.
But second-placed Brighton could return to the top tonight with a win over Cardiff City at the Amex Stadium in what is their game in hand.
But Darlow – who made a stunning save in the victory over Rotherham when the score was still goalless – insists he and his team-mates are more concerned with their own games.
“Brighton aren’t slowing down, and we’re obviously aware of how they’re playing,” said Darlow. “I wouldn’t say we’re focused on that or anything like that, but we obviously knew they’d won on the Friday, so we had to win ourselves to go back top.
“We want to be top the whole season if we can, although that will be affected by their game in hand.
“We’re not too bothered about what they’re doing, although we know we need to keep an eye on teams in and around us. As long as we’re in the top two, and we end up in the Premier League, that’s all that matters.”
Darlow felt the first-half save that denied Jerry Yates was one of the best he’s made.
But the 26-year-old admits it was his own fault, having had to release the ball before he slid out of the area.
Darlow raced back to somehow stop Yates’s shot.
“I caused my own problem, and put myself in a position where I had to make one of my best saves, but luckily I got away with that,” said Darlow.
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“People have said it was a good save, but it should never have happened in the first place, should it? Nevermind, though. I got myself out of it, and thankfully we got a clean sheet.
“We were happy with the win. They’re always tricky games when you’re playing teams that are down at the bottom.
“It was a big game for them, and a chance to come here to try to frustrate us, but we came through that. We needed the breakthrough and we got it, and then after that, it was pretty comfortable.
“We knew their game plan would be to try to hit us on the counter-attack. They were putting bodies behind the ball and trying to hit us on the break.”
Jonjo Shelvey has underlined his importance to United in the past two games.
The midfielder set up all three goals in last week’s 3-1 FA Cup win over Birmingham City on his return from a five-game suspension, and it was a free-kick from Shelvey which led to Newcastle’s first goal, scored by Daryl Murphy, in first-half injury time against a stubborn and spirited Rotherham side.
Matt Ritchie netted twice after the break and Ayoze Perez also found the net.
“Our forward players have been excellent for us,” said Darlow.
“Jonjo has come back in and picked up his levels straight away, and Matt has played pretty much every game for us this season, whether it be in the league or the cup. He’s obviously super fit, and he’s playing brilliant football at the minute.
“He scored a brace in the cup, and then followed up by doing the same in the league.
“He’s hit a bit of form, which is perfect for us, and obviously having Jonjo back is massive for us too. We know that we’re strong throughout the team. If we can be solid at the back, then we know we’ve got lot of strengths at the other end.”