Newcastle Gain Ground On Survival
The Saturday lunchtime kickoff in the English Premier League between Newcastle United and West Ham United was a fixture with great things at stake at both ends of the table.
At the top of the table, West Ham were looking to consolidate on their phenomenal season which has seen them maintain a spot in the top half of the table for a better part of the campaign.
The Hammers, currently 4th on the log would topple Leicester City into 3rd position with a win at St James' Park.
Newcastle on their part were looking to avoid relegation with barely seven games to go. This made for a sterling lunchtime fixture.
It was the hosts who got the game going, profiting from two devastating errors of their visitors to go two goals up before the interval.
Arguably the turning point of the game came in the 36th minute of the game when Craig Dawson received his matching orders for a second bookable offence.
Few seconds before that, the Englishman made a cynical challenge on Joeliton close to the center circle, but the referee played the advantage. The resulting counterattack championed by Saint Maximin eventually paid off with his effort, after wriggling through the West Ham defence, deflecting in off the heel of Issa Diop for an own goal.
It would go from bad to worse for the visitors when Lukasz Fabianski, who has been very instrumental for West Ham this season committed a howler. The former Arsenal stopper fumbled a corner kick he normally would have handled comfortably into the part of Joeliton who was grateful to finish from six yards out.
Despite been two goals and one man down, West Ham never have up and kept asking the questions of their hosts.
Their efforts finally bore fruits when Diop made amends for his own goal with a finely placed header beyond Fabianski from a Bowen cross to pull one back and give the Hammers hope of a comeback.
Light finally appeared at the end of the tunnel when Ciaran Clark's forearm hit the ball from a cross from the right side. The referee pointed to the spot after consultation with the VAR. In-form Jesse Lingard stepped up to convert the spot-kick and put West Ham back on levelled terms. Then and there, the Hammers must have been dreaming of a point out of nowhere.
Just when West Ham must have been fancying their opportunity of a possible winner, Steve Bruce seemed to dealt a masterstroke when he brought on Joe Willock to replace Sean Longstaff on the 81st minute.
The Arsenal loanee would only last a minute on the pitch before powering a header into West Ham's goal from a Matt Ritchie cross on the left which could only be parried inside the crossbar by Fabianksi to give Newcastle what turned out to be the winning goal.
The win ensured Newcastle move two places up to 15th and nine points adrift of the drop zone while West Ham missed the opportunity to climb up to third.