Tuesday, 30 March 2010

When Saturday Comes

Six points. That's all we need.

Two wins will guarantee that Newcastle return to the top flight at the first time of asking, and it's going to feel oh so good.

The win over Nottingham Forest has once again illustrated the incredible leap in both professionalism and determination that this squad has taken since the dark days of last season. Despite dominating the majority of the game the Magpies and their manager refused to panic that the game was still tied, confident their pressure would pay off.

Chris Hughton was forced into removing on-fire top scorer Andy Carroll at the start of the second half but was able to replace him with Shola Ameobi, making his return from injury. The seasoned Toon striker has had an injury hit season but has shown he is a more than capable of scoring goals in this division.

After 70 minutes of goalless football Shola picked up the ball on the edge of the area, created half-a-yard of space and fired the ball into the far corner of the goal, clipping in off the foot of the post before settling in the net. The strike was Ameobi's ninth goal of the season, that may not sound prolific but the 28-year-old has been restricted to just fourteen appearances and has almost certainly missed out on a hatful of goals due to persistent injuries.

The most significant moment in this match came deep into injury time as Jose Enrique secured victory with his first ever goal for the club. As the full-back's strike hit the back of the net St. James' Park erupted with joy as the Toon chalked up a massive victory in the promotion chase.

But the most telling factor that we are almost there were the celebrations from both the players and the manager. Enrique had a grin so wide I'm surprised he managed to get his shirt over his head as he ripped it off before being wrestled to the ground by a delirious Spiderman.

The Spaniard was duly mobbed by his teammates as the cameras caught images of Chris Hughton jumping into the air, before turning to the crowd and signalling his delight with a pump of his fist.

Enrique celebrates his first Toon goal before being mobbed by his teammates

You could feel the relief that gushed out of the team as they screamed in ecstasy. But it was more than that, it was more a feeling of accomplishment that all the hard work of this season has finally paid off with such a big win. We haven't seen celebrations like it all season. Not in the 6-1 thrashing of Barnsley, or the 4-0 win over Ipswich at Portman Road. This was a uniquely raw celebration of pure joy from everyone connected to the club. Even Fat Ash couldn't contain his excitement, he almost looked like he cared...

Promotion, it's in the bag.

It could be confirmed this weekend as we travel to bottom club Peterborough. Should we win against the Posh and Forest lose to Bristol City at Ashton Gate we will be mathematically secured of promotion.

With Forest now on a run of seven straight away defeats and Bristol City a tough place to go to, as we know from experience, it's a major possibility. By close of play this weekend we could once again be a Premier League team.

I wish it was Saturday now.

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