Matt Ritchie reflects on his Newcastle goals tally, winning at all costs and the challenge ahead against Burton this week

Matt Ritchie is felled by Jake Buxton, but no penalty is given.
Matt Ritchie is felled by Jake Buxton, but no penalty is given.

Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie hopes he can add to goals tally, to further justify Rafa Benitez's decision to sign him last summer.

The Scotland international was by far and away the most expensive addition by Rafa Benitez in pre-season, signing from Bournemouth in a deal worth around £12million.

But as every week goes by in the second tier, Ritchie is further underlining the Spaniard's call.

Ritchie netted his 10th goal at Championship level in Saturday's 2-1 home win over Wigan. That makes it 14 in total in his 43 games in 2016/17.

That's closing in on the 15 goals (from 51 games) he scored in the Cherries' promotion season, a campaign which launched him on to the international stage, as well as more than the amount he netted for previous club Swindon in 2011/12 and 2012/13 when he bagged the League Two and League One player of the year awards.

"The manager brought me in to score goals and create goals," admits Ritchie.

"And that’s what I’m doing at the moment.

"I probably should have created a few more against Wigan as my final pass wasn’t quite at it.

"But I’m delighted with the goal, and hopefully there’ll be a few more before the end of the season."

It's fair to say the weekend show against Wigan was far from vintage from United.

Matt Ritchie celebrates scoring his 10th league goal of the campaign.

Matt Ritchie celebrates scoring his 10th league goal of the campaign.

That matters little to Ritchie, though.

The victory took the Magpies 10 points clear of third-placed Huddersfield Town, putting them even further in the driving seat for a Premier League return come May 7.

And the midfielder says at this stage of the season three points, no matter how they are achieved, is the only goal.

"At this stage of the season you just have to have the desire to get over the line," he said.

"It’s not always about dominating, that’s nice and pleasing to do that, but it’s about three points at this stage of the season.

"I think that’s the stage of the season we’re at now really - if you’re playing tremendous football then you’ll get results.

"It’s hard to do that, but I did think we played well at times. I thought in spells we had some really good movements and looked dangerous, especially when it was 2-1.

"Then we should have killed the game off even more, and I should have scored when I was put through one on one."

Newcastle host yet another relegation-threatened side at the weekend, with Burton Albion, conqueror of the Terriers last time out, the visitors to St James's Park.

And Ritchie knows that despite it looking a straight-forward game on paper, United will have to battle for every point between now and the end of the season.

"You’ve seen throughout the season that anyone can beat anyone in this league, and you’ve got to be aware of all of the teams threats," he said.

"Burton certainly have threats and they’ve shown by beating Huddersfield that they can beat top teams. For sure they can win."

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