Sunday, October 06, 2013

Loic provides the Remydy

Cardiff 1 - 2 Newcastle Utd

Not for the first time, we find ourselves asking if the real Newcastle will please stand up. Not that we're complaining on this occasion, mind, after a fine win on a ground where Man City have already been beaten. And one thing is becoming clear, at least - we have a new goalscoring saviour to salute in Papiss Cisse's stead.

After his introduction changed the game on Monday night, it was no great surprise to learn that Dreamboat had been elevated back to the starting line-up - nor that Mike Williamson had been preferred to the man he replaced at the break at Goodison Park, MYM. What were more contentious were the Silver Fox's decision to drop HBA for Cisse, as short on confidence as he is on goals, and the selection of Mr T ahead of Vurnon Anita.

Cisse's return to the side meant Loic Remy moving out to the left - not that that meant he would allow himself to be shunted out of the action. On the contrary, he was central to a first-half team display that was every bit as good as Monday's was bad, brilliantly denied early on by David Marshall. The Bluebirds 'keeper then pulled off another important fingertip save from Moussa Sissoko's rising drive, hit with his weaker left foot.

Our onslaught on the Cardiff goal was unrelenting, though, and on the half-hour mark we got the breakthrough goal. Released into space wide on the left, Remy strode forward purposefully from the halfway line, teased defenders, cut inside and buried a shot from outside the box inside Marshall's right-hand upright.

Not that he was about to rest on his laurels, either. Eight minutes later, Marshall parried Cisse's prodded shot but could perhaps done better than to present Remy with the (half-)chance to stroke a precise side-footed shot into the opposite corner from his opener.

It could have been even better for us before the break. Dreamboat, who had taken up where he'd left off against Everton, pulling strings across midfield, had supplied the incisive pass to Cisse for the second goal, but came very close indeed to extending the lead further himself, smashing a cunning wide-right free-kick against a post when Marshall and pretty much everyone else in the stadium was expecting a cross.

That poor fortune aside, it was a thoroughly satisfying half, but we knew it was bound to get tougher in the second period. That that proved to be the case was thanks in part to Malky Mackay's introduction of Jordon Mutch, the sprightly substitute stirring things up in the middle of the pitch and supplying the pass from which Peter Odemwingie (yes, him again...) reduced the arrears. Mike Williamson was at fault, beaten to a bouncing ball too easily by Aron Gunnarson in the build-up and then unable to make amends when he slid in on the line.

That, inevitably, was the cue for Cardiff to apply some sustained pressure - but thankfully they couldn't work up a very big head of steam. Indeed, we could have extended our lead, had Marshall not smothered another tremendous close-range effort from Cisse or pushed away Dreamboat's angled drive. Admittedly, there was a scare when Mutch burst behind our defence and onto a forward pass, but Krul was off his line swiftly to snuff out the danger.

Ten efforts on target to their two gives a fair indication of our dominance (and the justice of the scoreline). While Cisse's embarrassing Premier League drought continues, Remy's goals were his fourth and fifth in English football - and the first to glean any points. We've now won as many games on the road as we did in the whole of last season - and we've reached that milestone in early October, whereas it took until May last year. Reason to be optimistic and accentuate the positives, perhaps - though with a tough few fixtures coming up, I think we should just savour this victory.

Other reports: BBC, Observer

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