Wednesday evening saw Newcastle play their second game of the season, hoping to improve on last week’s disheartening 5-1 defeat against Leeds Beckett. But, this was sure to be a tough task as they faced an Edinburgh side brimming with confidence after their 6-1 win over Birmingham, on top of their impressive championship-winning season in 2015/16.
Edinburgh got us underway, and immediately Newcastle suggested they weren’t going to rollover as energetic pressing on Edinburgh players shook the visiting team. Both Paddy Cochrane and Paddy Venn saw their efforts saved in the opening 5 minutes, which was a sign of things to come.
The hosts enforced their superiority through a series of good breakaway runs from No.77 Cochrane, who was having a big influence on proceedings. However, Newcastle failed to capitalise on their good play within the opening exchanges, and Edinburgh slowly grew into the game.
This was confirmed in the 15th minute as Newcastle defender Nick Woodhead came under imperious pressure from Edinburgh’s No.7, who robbed him of possession high into Newcastle’s half. Thankfully for Woodhead, the shot was saved by Newcastle’s goalkeeper Joss Micherson, who did well to deny the oncoming attacker.
As the half progressed, Edinburgh showed the credentials which helped them lift the trophy last year, with slick attacking play down the left, leading to 3 successive corners. In the 20th minute, the ball fell to Edinburgh’s No.11, whose fine sweeping effort was denied by Micherson, as he enjoyed a solid display between the sticks.
Despite Edinburgh’s emergence into the match, Newcastle defended well, in particular No.72 Matthew Hurst, who halted most of the visitors attacks down the left wing with hard tackles. This gave Newcastle the perfect platform to push on and mount several counter attacks, adding to the ebb and flow pattern the game was taking. With ten minutes to go till half time, Newcastle forward Cochrane began a slaloming run, dribbling around two Edinburgh defenders only to see his effort clatter against the post.
"As the half progressed, Edinburgh showed the credentials which helped them lift the trophy last year"
Temperatures began to rise around the 30-minute mark, with challenges flying in and a few cross words shared between the two sides. The ferocity came to a head as Newcastle’s Matthew Hurst was given a yellow card for tackling an Edinburgh midfielder from behind, certainly letting him know he was there, but earning himself a five minute suspension in the process.
The visitors strived to make their numerical advantage count, piling pressure on Newcastle and forcing a number of short corners. However, the hosts stood firm and held the visitors 0-0 into the break. An impressive first-half display from the underdogs in blue. Beginning of the second half and it was obvious that Newcastle were intent on starting the half the same way they did the first, with intensity, energy and determination.
However, Edinburgh’s players showed their class as they calmly played themselves out of trouble and began to get a foothold on the game. The travelling team managed to find their rhythm and interchanges between their midfield players carved an opening for number 11, whose low effort skimmed wide of the post.
Despite this apparent superiority from the visitors, Newcastle still managed to shift the momentum, creating counter attacks in the 35th-40th minutes, specifically down the left where Cochrane was getting some joy running at the Edinburgh defenders. This evidently rocked Edinburgh, as their No.122 was shown a yellow card for a foul on Newcastle’s captain James Veitch, maybe a sign that frustration was beginning to creep into last season’s champions who weren’t having it all their way.
In the 58th minute, some good play on the edge of the shooting circle from Newcastle players created a sight of goal for their No.20, whose fizzing shot was met with a strong boot from the Edinburgh keeper. The strike rebounded and caused pin-ball in the area, with bodies and sticks frantically flying in the direction of the goal. Edinburgh’s keeper miraculously managed to divert the ball away from the net and the goal was not given, play carried on and Edinburgh’s defence cleared the danger well.
"Cochrane was getting some joy running at the Edinburgh defenders"
Going into the last ten minutes it was impossible to predict a winner, with both sides giving it everything to claim all 3 points. Edinburgh again seized the chance to mount pressure as their attacking flair rewarded them with a series of corners, but they didn’t pay dividends as Newcastle stood their ground; their resilience throughout epitomized the spirit of the game.
However, Edinburgh refused to lie down and charged forward at every opportunity, seemingly desperate to return home with the victory. In the 70th minute, with only added time to go, a long corner was played brilliantly by Edinburgh’s captain, to the edge of the shooting circle and to the stick of Cypriot national team captain Antonis Efthymiou, smashing the ball home to the delight of his teammates and their management.
But, all was not over as deep into added time, Cochrane battled well on the left wing of Edinburgh’s defence, managing to dig the ball into the penalty area. It fell kindly for Newcastle’s No.33 Simon Jones, but again the Edinburgh goalkeeper prevailed, keeping out the despairing Jones’ attempt.
Edinburgh managed the game well, as they kept possession and saw the game out, demonstrating the characteristics of true champions, the ability to win ugly. Never the less, Newcastle performed heroically against a high calibre side, which is extremely encouraging for the season ahead.