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Newcastle overcame moments of nervousness and anxiety to secure their first victory since the opening day’s triumph against Aston Villa, edging out Brentford 1-0 at St James’ Park on Saturday.
The timing of this win couldn’t have been better, as Newcastle is on the brink of its much-anticipated return to Champions League football this week. They are set to face a formidable challenge against AC Milan at San Siro on Tuesday evening. It’s a stern test, but it’s precisely what the club and its fans have yearned for all along—the hope that endured throughout the gloomy Mike Ashley era, the aspiration to see the club reclaim its rightful place.
Eddie Howe made significant changes ahead of Brentford’s visit to St James’ Park. Callum Wilson, Harvey Barnes, Elliot Anderson, and Sean Longstaff all earned spots in the starting lineup. Joelinton traveled to Barcelona for a consultation with a knee specialist, while Sandro Tonali was on the bench due to a minor strain, not risking him.
The atmosphere in the stadium was fraught with tension and anxiety, and it seemed to seep onto the pitch. Newcastle recognized they were up against a formidable opponent, with Mbuemo and Wissa posing threats on the counter-attack. Brentford appeared more menacing, with Aaron Hickey testing Nick Pope with an angled shot and Wissa missing a golden opportunity as he failed to connect with a teasing cross from Mathias Jensen at the far post.
Newcastle needed to respond, and they came close when Bruno Guimaraes met a Fabian Schar flick-on a few yards from the goal following a corner. However, Flekken made a quick reaction save with his feet.
Callum Wilson, who started for the first time this season ahead of Alexander Isak, saw a close-range goal harshly disallowed by VAR, as he was judged to have obstructed Flekken. It was a decision that could have left Eddie Howe fuming had Newcastle not secured all three points.
Nevertheless, Wilson didn’t have to wait long to find the back of the net again. Flekken found himself in trouble with a needless foul on Gordon near the byline, leading referee Craig Pawson to point to the spot. VAR upheld the decision this time, and Wilson confidently converted the penalty, prompting a collective sigh of relief at St James’ Park.
Brentford made few threats to level the score in the closing stages, with Wissa missing another close-range opportunity from a Jensen delivery, steering the ball wide when he should have hit the target.
The final whistle brought resounding cheers at St James’ Park, as the Magpies celebrated a morale-boosting victory despite not being at their best. This win comes ahead of their midweek journey to Italy, and Eddie Howe will be hoping that this match marks a turning point in their season. Although they’ve faced challenges, Newcastle hasn’t appeared completely out of sorts this season, except for their performance at the AMEX. It has been a tough start, but not a disastrous one by any means.
Next up, two very different away games are on the horizon: a visit to San Siro on Tuesday evening followed by a trip to Bramall Lane on Sunday. Should they emerge unscathed from these two fixtures, Newcastle will have every reason to feel confident about the rest of the season.