Picture Credit: NBC Sports
Southampton v Toon
Friday 6th November
Newcastle get the weekend started with a rare Friday night kickoff as we embark upon one of our longest away trips of the season away to Southampton. Both sides will look to build upon good wins last time out with three points for either side firing them towards the top few places in the table. Southampton enjoyed a 4-3 win away to Aston Villa in the early kickoff last Sunday which was swiftly followed by Newcastle’s excellent 2-1 home win against Everton.
Southampton started the season with two defeats but have since experienced a sharp upturn in their results. Their last five matches have seen four wins and a draw giving them a return of thirteen points. At home, they lost heavily to Tottenham (5-2) but have beaten both Everton and West Brom giving them six points from a possible nine.
Newcastle remain as inconsistent as ever with our seven matches this season taking on a win-lose-draw-repeat pattern that was perpetuated with a 2-1 win last weekend. Away from home we beat West Ham 2-0 on the first day of the season before securing late draws against both Tottenham and Wolves. We’re still unbeaten on our travels.
Southampton currently occupy fifth spot in the premier league table and have the opportunity to move to the top of the tree. Newcastle’s eleven points sees us up to eleventh whilst another three points would have us in the converted Champions League places.
Southampton historically has been a horrendous away trip for those of a black and white persuasion with the magpies going an astonishing thirty two years without a victory away at both The Dell and St Mary’s between 1972 and 2004. This run came to a halt in exceptional circumstances when United hammered the Saints 3-0 live on BBC in The FA Cup 3rd Round. 2-0 up at half time through goals from Kieron Dyer and Laurent Robert, the match was then sealed by Dyer bursting through and scoring his second of the match in the second half in one of our best performances of the season.
Unfortunately Southampton were to gain a brutal revenge on us later on that season in the league. On the face of it a 3-3 draw away from home may seem a decent result but Newcastle went into the match knowing we needed a win to keep alive slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
Ahead early on through a fine effort from Ameobi, United were pegged back before taking the lead again via a Lee Bowyer strike The match followed a similar pattern and halftime came with the tie locked at 2-2. With Newcastle pushing for a second half winner, we inevitably left ourselves open at the back and conceded a sucker punch with just two minutes left. There was still time for Darren Ambrose to net an injury time equaliser but United had to be content with a point on what was a bitterly disappointing night.
St Mary’s provided the venue for the last Toon match that fans were able to attend before our routines were decimated by lockdown restrictions. We contrived to create and miss at least half a dozen good chances, including a penalty, before a second half effort from Saint-maximin won the match for the Toon.
In eleven league matches at St Mary's, Newcastle have won only two with four draws and five defeats.
NUFC are unbeaten in their last three visits to St Mary's. Last season's 1-0 was preceded by two draws (0-0 in 18/19 and 2-2 the year before that).
Newcastle have scored eleven goals in their league visits to St Mary's and conceded twenty four.
Ralph Hasenhuttl after beating Aston Villa 4-3 -"The first two games at the start of the season were a disaster. But we showed a good reaction and now we play how we should. It's good to see how the guys are developing. It's a good message from the boys."
Steve Bruce after beating Everton 2-1 - "They threw everything at us and the goal makes it edgy. We're trying to do things a different way and be more expansive but it is a work in progress. We have to do what is best for the team. They are comfortable at the moment.”
Played for both
Two absolute superstars have represented both Southampton and Newcastle down the years. All-time top scorer Alan Shearer began his career as a Saint, famously scoring a hat trick on his debut against Arsenal. The Geordie legend finally returned home via Blackburn Rovers for a world record fifteen million pounds on a glorious day in 1996. He’d go on to score two hundred and six goals for his hometown team, a record that in all likelihood will stand for decades.
His first competitive strike for the Toon was a stunning freekick at home to Wimbledon and his last put us 2-1 up in a memorable 4-1 derby victory away to arch rivals Sunderland. Amongst the other memorable goals are belting strikes at home to Everton and Aston Villa as well as crucial efforts in both the 1998 and 1999 FA Cup Semi Finals. Wonderful!
Let's not forget the most influential man in our modern history too. A certain Kevin Keegan who transferred from Southampton to Newcastle in 1982. Keegan would spend two years at the Toon becoming an instant hero when scoring the winning goal on his debut. His time as a player would end in promotion to the top tier. This doesn’t begin to tell even a fraction of the story of Keegan’s relationship with NUFC.
Coming back to manage the club in 1992, Special K took us on a rollercoaster of emotions from narrowly avoiding relegation to the third tier to promotion as champions a year later and then coming within a whisker of winning the Premier League in 1996, a season that has gone down in Geordie folklore. He dramatically walked out on the club in 1997 but returned under Mike Ashley for a few months in 2008, something that would ultimately end in tears.
Without Keegan, there would inevitably be an NUFC but there would have been no Les Ferdinand, David Ginola or Alan Shearer and most likely wouldn’t be a fifty two thousand seater stadium. I could write a million more words on Keegan’s Newcastle adventure and still not do it justice, anyone who wants to find out more can read the excellent ‘Touching Distance’ by Martin Hardy or buy the club VHS (if you still have a player) 'So Close'. Elating and heartbreaking in equal measure.
Special mention to John Beresford who has the honour of scoring Newcastle’s first two goals in the Champions League. He spent some time at Southampton near the end of his career and even played through an injury just to make one last appearance at St James’, he came on as sub, received a standing ovation and saw the Toon win 5-0 under Sir Bobby Robson in 2000. Marvellous!
The match will kick off at 8PM on Friday 6th November and is live on Sky Sports, thankfully not being broadcast on the ludicrously greedy and completely unacceptable pay-per-view channels.
The generosity of Newcastle fans in raising over £20,000 for their foodbank in the aftermath of the Man Utd match being made PPV has led to fans of other clubs following suit. A tremendous initiative under the current climate. Further donations can be made here https://newcastlewestend.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money/
‘Hampshire live’ have also done wonderful work raising awareness of food banks more local to our opposition and more info on their efforts can be found here https://www.hampshirelive.news/news/what-hampshire-foodbanks-need-half-4642989
Very difficult to call. Southampton are one of the form teams in the league right now and most money will be on them to win or at least not to lose. I realise I’m starting to sound a bit like Mark Lawrenson here (who never predicts his beloved Liverpool to lose) but I’d be absolutely delighted if we could build on our win against Everton and fancy to Toon to nick this with two late goals. Southampton 0-2 Newcastle.
Picture Credit: nufcblog