Newcastle United 2 Nottingham Forest 0
NEWCASTLE United planted one foot in the Premier League last night, appropriately falling back on the resilience and steel that has served them so well this season to clear the final obstacle preventing an immediate return to the top flight.
At a febrile, rain-sodden St James’ Park, United defeated a doughty Nottingham Forest to move as little as 90 minutes away from returning to English football’s top table.
It is a deserved promotion. United’s performance was brushed with class in the excellent Shola Ameobi and Jose Enrique strikes that settled the game but it was their resilience that helped drain the belief of a decent Forest side, who proved resolute rivals.
It has been like this all season – a mix of endeavour and invention that has proved too much for even the most accomplished second-tier opponents. Billy Davies traipsed into his post-match Press conference with a weary look that has become the trademark of opposition managers – and it betrayed a recognition that Newcastle are heading up at the first time of asking.
It may come as early as Saturday, if victory over Peterborough coincides with a winded Forest losing at Bristol City. Even if that eminently believable outcome doesn’t come to pass, it is only a matter of time before Newcastle are crowned champions. For a long time, it looked as if it would not arrive.
United have been having it all their own way of late at St James’ Park but it became obvious from the outset that Forest – astutely set up by the wily Davies – were not cut from the same cloth as the Championship fodder served up to Newcastle recently.
Drawing on the same feisty spirit that fuels their Scottish manager, youthful Forest were never going to be as easily undone as the procession of makeweights that have traipsed through the doors at St James’ Park recently.