IT was a memorable end to a forgettable game.
Newcastle United loan signing Loic Remy shielded the spinning ball from the resolute if cumbersome Ron Vlaar, turned him inside out for the umpteenth time before calmly blasting the ball past Brad Guzan for a 92nd-minute winner.
Cue a mixture of delirium and incredulity throughout St James’s Park with fans forgetting how to celebrate both a goal and a victory.
Newcastle’s first league strike at home since Boxing Day does not paper over the widening black and white cracks on Tyneside.
With Premier League safety all but guaranteed three months early and Remy’s legal problems resolved, a good club would be looking to broker a permanent deal with parent team Queens Park Rangers now.
Can you really see that happening though? Or will the situation drag on until after the World Cup when bigger and better outfits decide just how far up their pecking order the inconsistent French interational striker is?
The returning Remy’s display aside, it was mainly grit and determination which helped Newcastle trundle to victory.
Mike Williamson was magnificent at the back against Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke and his 77th-minute tackle to prevent the striker slipping Gabriel Adbonlahor through on goal was reminiscent of England legend Bobby Moore against Brazil at Mexico ’70.
Thankfully Villa were not Brazil or they might have turned their first-half superiority into goals.
Instead they were content after the interval to play on the break as Newcastle finally exerted some welcome if predictable pressure.
The visitors were the authors of their own misfortune and should be thankful there is enough dross beneath them to ensure another season of Premier League mediocrity.
Cardiff City seem doomed to an immediate return to the Championship with toothless West Brom likely to join them.
That leaves one for me from Fulham, Norwich City and our good friends down the A19.
Something tells me that the headmasterish Felix Magath will somehow bully his Fulham players to survival.
So it’s Norwich and Sunderland vying to avoid the final place.
How that tussle plays out may largely depend on how the Wearsiders react to this weekend’s Capital One Cup final with Manchester City.
“Cup final”? Where’s my dictionary?
- GAVIN LEDWITH
Mildly entertained by this dross?
Here’s some more we scribbled earlier: