Martin Dubravka has a messsage for Newcastle fans
It was bitterly cold. And it was late.
Yet Newcastle United’s fans were still singing long after the final whistle at Turf Moor.
Rafa Benitez and the club’s jubilant players had applauded the away end after Monday night’s 2-1 win over Burnley before heading down the tunnel at one corner of the ground.
And the club’s supporters were still there in the David Fishwick Stand – and still singing – as the team celebrated a third successive win in the dressing room.
The fact that Newcastle hadn’t won a Premier League away game for more then seven months hadn’t put off fans from going.
Nor had the fact that the game, which kicked off 30 minutes late, was being broadcast live that night.
Martin Dubravka, United’s goalkeeper, was just glad the team gave the club’s 2,450-strong following something to cheer about in Lancashire.
“It was amazing,” said Dubravka. “It’s what I said previously. We’ve felt that they were behind us, and we’ve been trying to give everything to them. We’re in the same boat.
“It was an amazing feeling to hear them and see them, because in the last 15 minutes, you never know what can happen.
“We felt that energy and support from them. I’m really pleased – we appreciate that.”
Dubravka and his team-mates, having failed to win any of their first 10 Premier League games, are now focused on winning a fourth successive fixture.
Newcastle, 13th in the league and four points above the relegation zone, take on West Ham United, also on 12 points, at St James’s Park tomorrow.
“We were waiting for the first victory,” said Dubravka.
“We knew that it was a tough fixture list, and we really needed the first victory. Everything’s going in the right way. We knew that we had to keep fighting for the victory. We fought for everything.
“We played clever, especially second half. We didn’t give them space to play and create something. The only thing they could do was cross the ball, and we were ready for it. The defenders played really well.”
Burnley – who finished seventh last season and qualified for the Europa League – can be an awkward opponent.
Newcastle’s plan was to control the ball and impose their game on Sean Dyche’s side, who delivered a series of balls into the box in the second half as they pressed for an equaliser.
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Asked about countering Burnley’s style of play, Dubravka said: “Actually, we would like to approach the game in our way.
“We don’t want to just play how they want to play, so I think, from the beginning, you could see how we kept the ball. We tried to create some spaces for the wingers and make some crosses.
“We tried to score. We needed goals – we knew that. We worked hard in training on that, and I’m really happy that we scored two very nice goals.
“The last 10 minutes, you could see that when we kept the ball and put them under pressure, the time goes.
“We knew that we were coming for a victory, and we’re really happy for that. The first victory away brings us more confidence.”
Only six teams in the Premier League have conceded fewer goals than Newcastle, whose goal difference is better than any team below them in the division.
“We’re trying to defend well in training,” said 29-year-old Dubravka. “We’re trying to do what the coach says on the pitch.”
Benitez’s methods – he fielded a five-man defence – delivered a much-needed away win. The club’s previous success away from St James’s Park had come away to Leicester City in early April.
“It was very important for us, because we knew it would be a tough game with many crosses,” said Dubravka.
“Every duel, it hurts the players, but they played very well. As a team, it’s supposed to be like that.
“We appreciate the three points, and, as a player, it’s a nice feeling to have three wins in a row.”
Meanwhile, Benitez is keeping a level head.
“We have won three in a row, but that means nothing,” said United’s manager.
“We’re happier, and more confident, but still we have to keep winning games if we want to stay up. We have to keep doing things in the same way, that’s it.
“I don’t watch the table too much. The next game against West Ham is the most important.”