Mike Williamson plays in 23 of Newcastle United’s 33 clean Premier League sheets

STRONG ENOUGH TO STOP A VAN: Newcastle United's Mike Williamson (left) tackles Man United's Robin van Persie
STRONG ENOUGH TO STOP A VAN: Newcastle United's Mike Williamson (left) tackles Man United's Robin van Persie

MIKE WIlliamson is determined he will be part of many more fantastic results – after admitting he had to fight to save his Newcastle United career.

The defender played a crucial role in the Magpies’ superb 1-0 win against champions Manchester United on Saturday.

It was Newcastle’s first win at Old Trafford in 41 years, and was built upon a strong defensive performance by Williamson and captain Fabricio Coloccini.

The duo – fitness permitting – now look set for a lengthy partnership in the heart of Newcastle’s defence, with Williamson’s return to the team having coincided with an upturn in results.

The 30-year-old was a peripheral figure in the early part of the campaign, but grabbed his chance due to a combination of injury, poor form and suspension for the likes of Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Coloccini.

But he admits it could have been different had he been tempted to follow close friend James Perch out of the St James’s Park door in the summer.

Perch left for Wigan Athletic in a £750,000 move, and Williamson was linked with a move to Cardiff City as his chances at Newcastle looked limited.

However, he insists he was always ready to fight for his place, and is glad he rejected the chance to leave Tyneside.

Williamson revealed: “The manager on first day of pre season said there would be competition all over the team and if you don’t fancy it, say now.

“But the lads who wanted to stay and fight for it did.

“It was always going to be tough but I’ve always got belief in myself.

“I’ve been part of some fantastic results in past few years for Newcastle United and hopefully there are more to come.”

The clean sheet against Man United was the Magpies’ 33rd since their return to the Premier League in 2010, with Williamson having played in 23 of those.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United Reserves reached the semi finals of the Techflow Northumberland FA Senior Cup with a 3-1 win at North Shields.

The Northern League Second Division high-fliers took a seventh-minute lead at the Daren Persson Stadium courtesy of Keiran Wrightson.

North Shields-born Adam Campbell (2) and Macaulay Gillesphey were the Magpies’ matchwinners.

Hartlepool-born keeper Jono Mitchell was in goal for United.