It was the 92nd minute and Bournemouth had somehow wrestled themselves back into this game when Andrew Surman sent over a right wing corner.
The Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe had increasingly bore the look of a man who thought luck was steering clear of his side, but then he had reckoned without the desire of Steve Cook.
Newcastle’s main two central defenders, Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark, could not stop the run and jump and the Bournemouth defender sent his header past Rob Elliot into the home goal.
The visiting bench burst in celebration at the realisation that they had climbed out of the relegation zone. It had been coming, but the timing, with only a minute remaining, felt relevant. Howe’s position has been in doubt this season, but sometimes players can emphatically end speculation, and that happened.
There had been two fine chances before then for Bournemouth, but then Newcastle could point to a dominant first half and a marginal offside goal ruled out when they were the better side.
Rafa Benitez had for once broken his own tactical preference for playing a lone centre forward. That probably owed much to the fact it was a formation favoured by Eddie Howe, and as a result Newcastle did not risk being over run in the centre of midfield.
Instead, for the opening half hour, they ran all over Bournemouth.
It was one-sided and but for the harshest of calls from a linesman, it would have seen Newcastle take a deserved lead.
That call came in the 16th minute. Matt Ritchie struck a fine, left-footed strike that clipped the inside of Asmir Begovic’s post with the goalkeeper well beaten. The rebound went straight to Dwight Gayle and he struck a first-time shot into the Bournemouth goal. The flag was raised, however, for offsides but a freeze-frame of the replay showed that if there was a difference between Gayle and Simon Francis it was absolutely marginal.
Newcastle’s donation began early. In the fifth minute Ritchie had gone for glory against his old side from 30 yards, and it took a finger tipped save from Begovic at full stretch to deny the former Bournemouth man.
Gail then started and almost rounded off a sweeping move that saw his header blocked by the chest of Steve Cook, from a Ritchie cross. Begovic excelled again, this time to his left, to tip away a rising Christian Atsu drive. Jonjo Shelvey then shot over the crossbar and Joselu later shot wide from 20 yards.
It was one way traffic, however, Bournemouth had come within a whisker of opening the scoring themselves in the 35th minute. It would have been hugely against the run of play at that point, but a quick break ended with Simon Francis crossing from the right to Callum Wilson who looped a header that Rob Elliot had to scramble back to tip over the Newcastle crossbar.
Elliot had to do well two minutes later, when Josh King broke through on the Bournemouth left, took the ball down and cracked an angled drive that was saved.
It offered encouragement to Howe’s men, who had won only once on their travels this season before their trip to St James’ Park.
Still, Newcastle again had the chance to go ahead early in the second half, when Shelvey’s corner reached Joselu and his downward header was tipped over by Begovic.
However the game’s best chance would come in the 52nd minute when Wilson broke through. The Bournemouth forward was all alone, splitting the heart of the Newcastle fence and there was expectation in the visiting dugout as he took his time, lined up his shot, and then struck the ball into the side netting. The player, like his manager, had his head in his hands.
Elliot then denied Marc Pugh and then Ciaran Clark, on for the injured Jamaal Lascelles, headed over the bar.
At the death would come the real drama; Howe did not even go ballistic, just a look to the footballing gods in the sky when Pugh’s effort went through Elliot and clipped a post after striking Clark.
That was in the 89th minute. The final drama was still to come.
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