It wasn't brilliant, but it was a critical, necessary victory for Newcastle United.
The defense held well. Newcastle won the midfield battle. Goalkeeper Steve Harper marked his return from a freakish September injury by earning a clean sheet. Wigan seemed to have only two great chances - a direct shot on Harper (which he saved wonderfully), and a header by a defender which hit the crossbar. Newcastle had two defenders, Steven Taylor and Frabricio Coloccini, head the ball off of the Wigan crossbar.
A tired looking Shola Ameobi filled in for injured star striker, Andy Carroll. Ameobi couldn't finish the golden opportunity handed to him in the third minute, when he attempted to head a perfect cross from Danny Simpson into the top corner of the net from just four yards out. Somehow, the ball went off his neck, resulting in a miss. But Shola redeemed himself later in the first half when he easily netted a delection off the post for a crucial garbage goal. Joey Barton's shot was nearly held by the keeper, but rolled out to Peter Lovenkrands, who hit the post, leaving Shola all alone with the ball and an empty net. Lovenkrands has been unlucky in a season that has fallen far below his standards. But Shola has done his job simply by being where he needed to be. What's that quote from Woody Allen about how fifty percent of life is simply "showing up"? Shola could have scored twice, but one goal did the job. He scored that goal by showing up in the left corner of the goal.
Newcastle could have socred as many as six goals, actually. But they never lacked confidence. They knew they had to win this game to put the team back on track for a 48 point season total. The win earned Newcastle their 25th point in 20 games, with another lesser opponent, West Ham, visiting them at home on Wednesday January 5th.
Now for the commentary from bloggers closer to the action.
Black & White & Read All Over: "Well, there's one New Year's resolution ticked off already."
Shite Seats: "This is one screwed up league table. Half the season gone and only 7 points covers the bottom 12 teams...Why were [Alex] Ferguson and [Roy] Hodgson watching the match?"
Window shopping, I guess? But not for Newcaslte players, surely. Do they want Shola Ameobi or Leon Best? Nope. And Any Carroll wasn't even on the pitch. So go figure.