Toon Army go Barmy after Stratford victory
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 03 Nov 2019 18:01:00
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The only two Premier League clubs that Manuel Pellegrini had previously not lost to were Everton and Newcastle United. In March 2018, the Toffees went to Stratford and beat his West Ham United side 2-0 and on Saturday afternoon, his 100% record against the Magpies was also broken, as the Hammers started November with a 3-2 home defeat.

Although the team only drew at home to newly-promoted Sheffield United last weekend, the manager stuck with the same side for this encounter.

It looked as though the hosts were keen to make amends for their second half display last weekend and they went close to grabbing an early advantage as Robert Snodgrass curled over a corner. Although Fabián Balbuena managed to get a good connection to the set-piece, he could only send it inches wide of the post.

Steve Bruce's men survived a big scare there and just two minutes later, they gave the home side something to think about. Referee Stuart Attwell had deemed Issa Diop's challenge on Miguel Almirón to be worthy of a free-kick. Jonjo Shelvey took responsibility for the set-piece and Magpies' record signing Joelinton headed back across goal for Ciaran Clark to head into the net past Roberto Jiménez Gago.

Up until this game, Newcastle had not scored more than one goal in a match all season. Well, six minutes later, that is exactly what happened. The build-up to their second started from a short corner routine which confused the Irons' defence and from there, Jetro Willems hung up an inviting ball which Federico Fernández beat Jiménez Gago to and he headed into the empty net. 

The goalkeeper did however redeem himself soon after when he prevented Allan Saint-Maximin from making the scoreline even worse after the striker was through on goal.

The visitors really had a spring in their step by this point and the Spaniard found himself in a similar situation just minutes later when he again thwarted the Magpies summer recruit with a brilliant save.

The home side were in desperate need of a goal before the break and had two opportunities to pull one back. The closest they went was when Sébastien Haller attempted the spectacular but Martin Dubravka's reactions were equally as stunning. The visiting keeper also managed to stop Balbuena's header from going past him.

West Ham had been in much harder situations than this before and they were just hoping that it wasn't going to get too much worse as both teams went down the tunnel for half-time.

To try to evoke a response from his team, Pellegrini decided to make a double change at the break as captain Mark Noble and Andriy Yarmolenko were replaced by Manuel Lanzini and Albian Ajeti.

It's been well known in recent weeks that VAR hasn't gone in favour of the Irons however, on this occasion it did. Soon after the restart, DeAndre Yedlin thought he'd added his name to the scoresheet but his effort was ruled out for offside. Unfortunately for those in the home end though, Bruce saw his side extend their advantage as just a few minutes later Shelvey's free-kick beat Jiménez Gago and really the Hammers' stopper should have again done a lot better.

With his side still three goals down without reply on 72 minutes, Pellegrini made his final change as he introduced Ryan Fredericks in place of Pablo Zabaleta.

Last March, the home fans saw their side score in the 75th minute of a match on their way to staging a quite frankly unbelievable comeback against Huddersfield Town and a minute later, I was certainly thinking to myself surely they couldn't do it again could they? Well, on this occasion, it wasn't to be but they did give it a good shot.

It all started when Balbuena again combined with Snodgrass. This time however, the Paraguayan defender got a better connection to the Scotsman's corner and scrambled the ball past Dubravka.

A lot of spectators had already left by this point but those who remained suddenly found their voices. They saw Snodgrass add a second and were really encouraged when five minutes of stoppage time were signalled but unfortunately, no repeat of the Huddersfield comeback materialised meaning Pellegrini's perfect record against the Magpies is now over.

The next task facing the Irons' boss is trying to rectify his record at Burnley when the East Londoners visit Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon.

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