Premier League
Newcastle United 4-3 West Ham United 

Saturday, 30th March 2024
by East Stand Martin

It all started so well. Thursday night in the heart of enemy territory in Welfarespoons, Enfield (yeah, I do live there) and Fred's turned up from Oxford for the overnight before getting the train on Good Friday up to the Toon for the game. £1.79 for a beer. "The last time you paid that for a pint, you'd just bought an Alvin Stardust record", I said.

Fred had eyes on the prize of ham, egg and chips and announced our table number. "We're at 11" he said. That sent a shiver down my spine as ESM Jnr said, "And you know who has that number on his shirt?" "Don't worry", I said, "Moyes will play JWP."

Good Friday train up sweet as a nut, gaff in Jesmond, the session started at around 3pm. Straight into the heart of Newcastle for a few on the Tyne at the Piano and Pitcher to be confronted by a Hen Party comprising a bride to be that made Shrek's missus look anorexic.

Pub crawl ensued where I keep spotting attractive women out with blokes that quite frankly were a bit below their pay grade. I must have told about five Geordiettes that the geezers they were with were punching. They didn't beg to differ.


The other thing you notice about Newcastle is that just about every ten yards you seem to encounter a Greggs. The place is riddled with ?EUR~em. Apparently the original Mr Gregg was a Geordie, although I reckon he might have turned his nose up at the vegan steak slice that's now on offer, "Noaaah, that's rabbit food, man." Yep, I had one. Very nice.

Newcastle is a quality night out and someone said to me "Are you up for the match?" "No", I replied, "I've come up here to find out who murdered my brother, Frank Carter. They tried to tell me it was a drink driving incident. I know different."

The chat the night before was basically about the lack of El Machin (or El Assassino, as I call him) and the fear that Kalvin Phillips might get the nod. "If he plays we will lose", I said.

Early setback

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To the match. First problem is getting up the stairs to the away end. "Don't worry", I said to Fred, Sherpa Tenzing is the other side of this turnstile with an oxygen tank."

Imagine my relief when I arrived in the Eagle's Nest to see that JWP was playing. No sign of the dreaded 11.

The game started and it was like deja vu from last season with us conceding an early goal with just a couple of minutes gone. Gordon went prancing into our box and Vlad the Impaler countered with an agricultural tackle. But wait, it's been referred to VAR! As if that was gonna save our bacon given recent decisions.

A post-match review of this incident suggests that this was offside. Anyone who thinks Mavropanos had control of the ball and therefore played Gordon onside needs to explain how that works with the rules of association football..

You gotta have RAF pilot grade eyesight to see things at St James ?EUR~s Park, but it looked to me that Isak slightly shanked his penalty. Unfortunately it snuck in the right corner.

Bounce back

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You dread the worst when you concede, but I consoled myself with what happened last season when we went behind early doors yet came back to get a draw. The first half story as it unfurled was to be one of West Ham domination.

Pass after pass went astray from from Newcastle and we looked cultured and in control despite the early setback. Antonio in particular looked lively and went on a great burst but shot over when he probably should have hit the target.

Following a fantastic tackle in the box by Zouma, a sublime pass by Paqueta set Antonio off. He timed his run perfectly and made a terrific finish to level the score on 21 minutes. It was no more than we deserved.

It was at this point that the ref was really beginning to get on my tits. What looked like a clear foul on Paqueta was ignored and it led to a counter attack through the usual channel of Gordon but his shot was poor. Later, when Soucek made what looked an innocuous foul, the yellow got brandished. The same when Kudus went on a bursting run and against the final defender it looked like he was taken out.

It was all a bit end to end. Newcastle failed to deal with a long ball after the ball dropped to Kudus, but his shot was blocked on the edge of the box.

The Newcastle passing was still poor, but an error by Coufal on 35 minutes allowed the ball to be recycled out right to Murphy who put over a peach of a cross that Gordon inexplicably headed wide of the left hand post.

Soucek had me worried just before the start of 10 minutes of added time - a combination of VAR and injuries including Lascelles - when he made a straight leg tackle which he had to get right on the edge of the box.


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What happened next was pure mayhem. Kudus got round the back after a crafted pass from Paqueta, but the ball looped up across the face of goal wit no-one there. That was followed by another break by Gordon which resulted in the ball coming centrally to Guimaraes and a snap shot that hit the bar.

The ref was missing again on what looked like a clear foul on Paqueta as he burst forward. Play on apparently.

Ecstasy for the travelling fans though in the final minute of added time as Antonio drew a foul and the free kick was taken quickly with Schar comotose. Assist by Bowen, Kudus smashed it in. A lot of complaining from the Geordies that we had the audacity to take a quick free kick. Great thinking by Paqueta.

A hilarious scene followed with Kudus trying to borrow a ball boy's stool for his trademark seated celebration. The kid refused to budge. Fair play to him for standing his ground.

What a half of football! That's why you spend your money and travel all those miles. Pure entertainment and very exciting.

Second half

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The second half started with Fab subbed on for Areola. It was clear something wasn't right as Mavropanos had been taking goal kicks in the first half.

Could this game get any better for the Irons? It certainly could as following a defensive header by Emerson over his own bar, the corner led to brilliant counter attack fired by Kudus who just kept the ball in play. He slotted a pass to Bowen who was miles ahead of any opposition player and he finished calmly into the bottom corner.

That's 19 goals for the England player, and with 15 in the PL this season he's just one behind Paolo (1999-00). 20 is coming and hopefully that will be against the Spuds on Tuesday. What a player.

To me, it looked like we might score some more, so it was time to cash out on my ??20 3-2 bet (22/1). I took ??98 and like all the travelling Irons, I was feeling very happy with life. "No noise from the Saudi boys", crowed the away support.

St James's Park was beginning to look like A&E at Newcastle General Hospital and on 57 minutes, a triple substitution happened. We looked comfortable and in control.

Everyone loves the darts

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Time to concentrate on ripping the piss out of the nearest Newcastle fans. First someone decided some random Geordie looked like Luke Littler.

"There's only one Luke Littler".

"Littler, Littler what's the score?"

"Stand up if you love the darts, sit down if you're 3-1 down."

Glum looking Geordies quiet as the grave.

The joy was ultimately short lived and our world got turned upside down with the next two substitutions, Barnes came on for the injured Almiron who'd only been on 10 minutes, and this was swiftly followed by the introduction of Phillips for Antonio.

Substitution destitution

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Writing this piece on the train coming home, the discussion amongst the boys is whether that single act of substitution by Mr Moyes sealed our fate or whether it was an understandable move to rest Antonio and try and run the game down with a defensive gambit.

My view on this is that the Phillips we have is a body double or his secret twin brother, while the real Phillips is in the Bahamas on the beach. This imposter we have has been like Kryptonite to the team. Every time he gets applied we turn to jelly.

I'm not one for digging out individual players, but this whole Phillips thing simply hasn't worked. This is England's Player of the Year in 2020/21 but to me, he looks a bit like a foreign player who's just started in the PL and cannot deal with the pace. He gets caught on the ball, gets robbed and is prone to giving the ball away.

Barnes on the other hand is one of those players that always causes problems for us. I recall that game in 2019 where he got an added time equaliser for Leicester.

Things looked immediately wrong for us after these substitutions. The setup that had been ticking got shut down. Momentum went and we just looked disrupted. It was a shift from front foot to back foot.

You can have 20/20 hindsight in these situations, but the least disruptive move to the shape of the team would have surely been the introduction of Ings, who's been looking sharper of late. The decision was to run with the blunt instrument rather than the sharp one.

Newcastle smelt blood and Fab had to make a great save from the newly introduced Barnes on 72 minutes. A minute later there was panic in our box and Fab had to shut it down again. Encouraged by this momentum shift, another assault on our goal saw a second penalty won via VAR and scored again by Isak following a foul by Phillips on Gordon.

Looking at this again after the game, the general view of Irons on the 1759 from Newcastle as I write this is that this is not a foul. Gordon does not have control of the ball, he has not even touched it and he's not even facing the right way. The fact is though is that the Fake Phillips was way too slow allowing Gordon to stick his leg in the way. He's conned a penalty there basically.

This basically changed the game. Far from thinking that I might have prematurely cashed out on that 3-2 bet, the fear was that the lead would soon be lost.

The Barnes show

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So it proved as on 83 minutes as we got opened up through the middle by a pass from Isak that set Barnes up to finish clinically.

That sparked a further change by the manager with Johnson on for JWP, but it was not long before disaster struck on 90 minutes with the second Barnes goal. You had to admire the finish. Needless to say, we then got roasted to within an inch of our lives by the jubilant Geordie fans after everything we'd given out when we'd had the two goal lead.

That ground was transformed into a cauldron of noise.

There was one last gasp final chance to get level when in the 97th minute, Kudus put over what looked like an inch perfect cross to the far post where Soucek was waiting. Inexplicably the Czech predator chested it wide causing howls of frustration amongst the travelling support.

This was an extraordinary game of football where we were taken on a white knuckle ride that ultimately ended up in a head on crash. It could be very costly for our final PL placing and a fourth successive season in Europe.

Gutting, but I wouldn't have missed this top away trip. The defeat is hard to take but it's not fatal. Let's hope we can bounce back on Tuesday, I wouldn't be surprised if we did in this yo-yo schizoid season.

(Ratings by James Haley)

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Player Ratings

Alphonse Areola
Didn't put a foot wrong before being substituted at half time.

Vladimir Coufal
Couldn't deal with Gordon or Barnes throughout the game and didn't pose a threat down the other end.

Emerson Palmieri
Nothing special for the left back today as Newcastle kept him pretty quiet.

Kurt Zouma
Average game for the Frenchman..

Konstantinos Mavropanos
His best game in a West Ham shirt with some crucial interceptions and one particular outstanding piece of defending when he hooked the ball clear to deny Isak.

Tomas Soucek
He cannot replicate what Edson Alvarez does in our system so it was a poor game for the Czech.

James Ward-Prowse
An improved performance on his return to the team.

Lucas Paqueta
Very good assists for the first goal and he dictated the game up until the point where Antonio went off.

Mohammed Kudus
Great dribbling as always from the Ghanian and a brilliantly taken goal to give us the lead in the first half.

Jarrod Bowen
Took his goal well but apart from that it wasn't his best performance this season as he struggled to break down the Magpies' defence.

Michail Antonio
The lynchpin to our attack today as soon as he came off the attack was non-existent. Great finish for the first goal.


Lukasz Fabianski
(Replaced Areola, 46) One or two good saves, then beaten for three goals.

Kalvin Phillips
(Replaced Antonio, 68) These mistakes are not unlucky anymore, he is a poor player and the definition of a flop.

Ben Johnson
(Replaced Ward-Prowse, 83) n/c

Danny Ings
(Replaced Coufal, 90) n/c

Aaron Cresswell
Did not play.

Angelo Ogbonna
Did not play.

George Earthy
Did not play.

Maxwel Cornet
Did not play.

Divin Mubama
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Alphonse Areola, Vladimir Coufal, Emerson Palmieri, Kurt Zouma, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Tomas Soucek, James Ward-Prowse, Lucas Paqueta, Mohammed Kudus, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio.

Goals: Michail Antonio 21 Mohammed Kudus 45 Jarrod Bowen 48              .

Booked: Tomas Soucek 0 David Moyes 0        .

Sent off: None.

Newcastle United: Dúbravka, Livramento (Almirón 56 (Barnes 67)), Lascelles (Krafth 17 (Hall 57)), Schär, Burn, Longstaff, Guimarães, Willock (Anderson 57), Murphy, Gordon, Isak.

Subs not used: Karius, Dummett, Ritchie, White.

Goals: Isak (6,77 pens), Barnes (83, 90).

Booked: Gordon, Barnes, Howe, Isak.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Rob Jones.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Konstantinos Mavropanos.