Newcastle ride their luck but Krul sees no reason to be scared
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Newcastle United 2
Monday 03 October 2011
Fifteen points and a top-four place after the opening seven matches, with a couple of Carling Cup away wins thrown in, have left Newcastle United's squad proclaiming sky-high confidence and fear of no one. Oh, and pinching themselves to check it is all really happening.
Hard though it was not to sympathise with an unfortunate and sliding Wolverhampton Wanderers, this was another day that demonstrated what was considered relatively little is being stretched a long way on Tyneside.
Manager Alan Pardew exudes scant surprise at Newcastle's start to the season and, passionate Londoner that he is, the manager is already anticipating a "pumping" St James' Park for Tottenham Hotspur's visit following the international break.
Tim Krul, the star performer, in the club's first top-flight victory at Molineux since 1958 did let his guard down, though. "We wouldn't have believed this position if you had told us at the start," the goalkeeper admitted. "But we knew we had a good squad, the confidence has grown game by game and we have two home games now. We don't have to be scared of anyone."
The 23-year-old Dutchman – that age prompts a double-take as comparisons with Edwin van der Sar intensify – had already made the first few in a long series of quite brilliant saves when Newcastle struck with goals from Demba Ba and Jonas Gutierrez. Further goalkeeping heroics and defenders' blocks showed why Newcastle boast the Premier League's best goals-against record but it could have been much different.
Wolves were dealt a rum hand by Mark Halsey's awarding of a free-kick rather than a penalty when Steven Taylor bowled Jamie O'Hara over and the stoppage-time insistence of a peak-capped assistant that Adam Hammill's cross had floated out of play, before Kevin Doyle scored an equaliser, was borderline.
Newcastle face tougher challenges ahead and will certainly have a less kind rub of the green. For now, though, they are impressively and happily confounding the sceptics.
Wolves belatedly pulled one back through the prolific Steven Fletcher but have lost four successive games and their manager Mick McCarthy ensured his criticism reached the ears of his defenders as well as those of the officials.
No one is having a tougher time of it than Karl Henry, the Wolverhampton-born midfielder recently replaced as captain, and McCarthy said of his side: "Heroic failures don't wash with me. We had a great second half against Liverpool as well. We need to stop the rot."
Scorers: Wolves Fletcher 88. Newcastle Ba 17, Gutierrez 38. Substitutes: Wolves Guedioura 7 (Henry, 58), Hammill 7 (Hunt, 58). Newcastle
Lovenkrands 6 (Ba, 71), Guthrie (Cabaye, 89), Marveau (Obertan, 90). Booked: Wolves Henry. Newcastle Gutierrez, Krul.
Man of the match Krul. Match rating 8/10.
Possession: Wolves 54% Newcastle 46%.
Attempts on target: Wolves 12 Newcastle 6.
Referee M Halsey (Lancashire). Att 26,561.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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