The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

IF THREE de­feats in as many games had given New­cas­tle’s ri­vals hope, this was a re­sult – and per­for­mance – that mer­ci­lessly crushed such delu­sions un­der­foot.

Yes, Birm­ing­ham were the ar­chi­tects of their own down­fall. Where Black­burn went man-toman and at­tacked ev­ery first touch in snatch­ing a shock 1-0 win at St James’ Park, the Blues sat deep and tried to frus­trate.

Had their full-backs been faster or en­gine room fit­ter, it might have stood a chance. But in giv­ing play­ers like Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie and Mo Di­ame – fi­nally turn­ing up in a black and white shirt – space to op­er­ate, they ef­fec­tively sur­ren­dered.

Nev­er­the­less, very few sides dom­i­nate Rowett’s Blues. In rack­ing up 20 shots and 62 per cent pos­ses­sion, New­cas­tle did that and more.

This was as one-sided a con­test as you will see in any divi­sion and a powerful state­ment of in­tent from a team who will un­doubt­edly be crowned cham­pi­ons.

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