Eddie Howe's telling Elland Road observation bodes well for Newcastle United

Newcastle United fans had waited a long time for an away win – and they enjoyed it long after the final whistle at Elland Road.

Sunday, 23rd January 2022, 12:29 pm

As the pitchside boards were erected ahead of the post-game interviews following Newcastle United’s 1-0 win over Leeds United yesterday, fans celebrated what was only their team’s second victory this season.

“Ain’t Nobody” was sung in honour of Jonjo Shelvey, whose low second-half free-kick claimed all three points for Eddie Howe’s side.

Supporters, some of whom had been caught up in a worryingly congested scene outside the away turnstiles, were in no hurry to leave.

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They hadn’t seen an away win since May 7 last year. That’s 245 days. They’ve had some bad days in that time, but this was a good one, though it was far from straightforward.

Leeds were all over Newcastle for a 20-minute spell before the break during which Martin Dubravka superbly denied Dan James.

Then Howe lost the first of three players to injury – Joelinton was forced off with a longstanding groin problem – and the team made it to the break without conceding a goal.

Leeds pushed for a goal after the interval – and left spaces for Newcastle to exploit. The visitors – who lost Paul Dummett and Jamaal Lascelles to injuries later in the half – exploited those gaps. Shelvey played intelligently alongside Sean Longstaff, on for Joelinton, and Allan Saint-Maximin ran and ran, as did Joe Willock, who got into his stride after the break.

Jonjo Shelvey is congratulated by Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

The goal, scored in the 75th minute, didn’t exactly come as a surprise.

What was more of a surprise was how Newcastle – who had retreated after taking the lead against Watford a week earlier – reacted to going ahead.

“That was a big test after last week,” said Howe. “I think the pleasing thing was, we had a 1-0 lead, and it wasn't backs to the wall. We looked the most likely team to score.

“We counter-attacked very, very well, and I did think we looked a threat in the second half. We didn’t surrender possession in space – we kept looking to attack.”

Newcastle looked the team most likely to score, and Saint-Maximin was denied what looked to be a clear penalty after being tripped in the box.

Yes, Leeds had dominated spells of the game, but they hadn't dominated the game. They didn’t have it all their own way, and the visitors gave as good as they got after the break.

Kieran Trippier was superb at the back against Jack Harrison, while Fabian Schar also deserves credit for his performance in defence.

Howe was pleased with the “resilience” of the team, but the resourcefulness of the players with the ball, especially in the second half, was just as important.

“I think you always learn things about your players – win, lose or draw,” said the club’s head coach.

“We showed there’s resilience in the team, we’re fighting for each other. They’re fighting for the club. They have belief they’re not dead and buried. There’s more to come.

“I’m so, so pleased for everyone connected with Newcastle that we won the game. Hopefully, it can transform our season.”

If Howe’s team can replicate this performance, fans will have a lot more to shout about this season.

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