Newcastle's Matt Ritchie says goal should have stood at Birmingham
Matt Ritchie had a simple message after Newcastle United moved a point clear of Brighton and Hove Albion '“ the league table doesn't lie!
Ritchie had a strike disallowed for offside in Saturday’s goalless draw at St Andrew’s.
But the winger and manager Rafa Benitez were adamant that the goal, which would have given the club a record 14th away win of the season, should have stood.
Ritchie – who had helped a shot from Ayoze Perez over the line before the break – still feels the point United took home could prove to be an important one come the end of the campaign.
“We’re in a good position,” said Ritchie. “We’re at the top of the league, and as long as we continue to perform as we have throughout the season, then the league table doesn’t lie.
“Obviously, the result wasn’t three points, but I think the way we played was positive.
“We moved the ball well, even though the pitch wasn’t great. We got into good areas and created a few chances.
“We’ve got a fortnight to regroup now. We just need to work hard, and hopefully we’ll have a successful run in, and one that we’ll be fresh for.”
On his disallowed goal, Ritchie added: “I definitely think the goal should have stood – it looks an incorrect decision to me.
“I might have been level with Ayoze, but if anything I think I was behind him because I gambled on it coming back out.
“It was disappointing, but in the end, you look at it and it could be a good point.
“We all know this league is unforgiving, and we’ve come away from a tough place with a draw. Birmingham are probably starting to play how they’ve wanted to play for a while, so it could be a good point at the end of the season.”
Brighton were beaten 2-0 by Leeds United on Saturday while third-placed Huddersfield Town lost 4-0 at Bristol City on Friday night.
“You can’t take anything for granted in this league,” said Ritchie.
“Although you also don’t want to accept a result like this, you don’t want to be going into games thinking that in the Championship anything can happen, because if you do that you’re setting yourself up for a fall.
“For sure, we go out to win every game, and we’re disappointed in the dressing room that we didn’t win.
“But this is football. The lads are disappointed not to have won, but at the start of the season, that’s maybe the type of game that we would have lost 1-0.
“There are certainly positives to take from it. They’re a good side and they played some good stuff as well.
“It was disappointing not to take all three points, but we got a point and at this stage of the season, every point is an important one. Hopefully, it’ll mean a lot come the end of the season.”
Birmingham goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak won praise from both Benitez and Gianfranco Zola after the game for the second-half saves which denied Ritchie and Daryl Murphy.
“We had the one that was disallowed, Murph had a couple of headers on target, and then I had one that was tipped around the post too,” said Ritchie, who has linked up with the Scotland squad ahead of fixtures against Canada and Slovenia.
“We were a little bit unlucky, but they don’t go in all the time and we just need to stay positive.”