“When I’m allowed to change the rules of football,” says Sam Campbell, “that would no longer be a penalty. A free shot at goal is far too great a reward/punishment when the attacking player has no intention of getting the ball under control and just kicks it anywhere knowing they will be fouled. An indirect free kick would be awarded instead. I am full of great ideas if FIFA are reading this.”
The Newcastle players are doing a lap of honour, or perhaps relief, as the crowd belt out Hey Jude. They are now 14th, have points clear of the drop zone.
The goalscorer, Chris Wood, is missing the fun because he’s giving an interview. It’s his first goal from him for Newcastle at home. “We want the club to go to the next level,” he says. Offered more than one chance to say that they’re safe, he politely declines. “But it’s a nice position to be in.”
The man of the match is Bruno Guimaraes. “He was everywhere,” says Don Goodman, who chose him.
One last Wolves attack fizzles out in a goal kick, and that really is that. Newcastle’s players and coaches hug each other like men who know that they’re out of the woods, thanks to Chris Wood.
90+4min: Howe plays his final card, replacing Saint-Maximin with Murphy, and that is surely that.
90+3min: Neto curls a cross in, only to see Dubravka grab it out of the air. Lage is remonstrating him with his players, wondering why none of them were on the end of that, but it was clearly marked Keeper’s Ball.
90+1min: Neto’s been so good since he came on, all neat feet and sharp angles, that you wonder why he didn’t appear earlier.
90 minutes: There will be four more minutes.
89min: Joelinton has a blast and it’s a good one, but Sa saves it.
88min: Eddie Howe makes a change too, sending Sean Longstaff on for Guimaraes, who takes a little of the shine off a silky display with some blatant time-wasting.
86min: Lage makes his final change as Marcal comes off to be replaced by Ait-Nouri.
85 minutes: You wait 80 minutes for a shot on target by Wolves and then two come at once. This one is by Jonny, who manages more precision than power as he has to go from just outside the box.
83min: Chem Campbell, by the way, is a Welsh winger making his Premier League debut. Like Cundle, who’s still on the field, he is only 19.
82min: That was Wolves’ first shot on target.
80 minutes: A save from Dubravka! From a fine shot by Silva, drilled hard and low after he did well to swivel on the edge of the box.
79min: Bruno Lage throws the dice, sending on Neto and Campbell for Hwang and Trincao. Neto instantly conspires with Marcal, who puts in a handsome cross, headed wide by Silva.
77min: As it stands, Newcastle are 14th, above Brentford and only behind Brighton on goal difference. But they do have a habit of conceding late goals.
75 minutes: Close! Wood plays a fine lay-off to Saint-Maximin, who finds Guimaraes. He has to sort his feet out, which gives Moutinho time to get back and deflect the shot for a corner.
73min: Wood hit it hard and high, not into the corner but Sa had gone the wrong way. It’s rough justice, Newcastle’s reward for being the better team in the first half.
A good pen, and a huge roar!
It wasn’t offside.
Sa comes out, Wood goes down – but the ball was already heading out for a goal kick. The ref had no hesitation…They’re checking for offside.
66min: Saint-Maximin is having a bizarre game. I’m beginning to suspect that a friend said to him earlier, “Bet you can’t get in 20 good positions against Wolves and not score from one of them.”
64min: Another chance for Saint-Maximin, who has one job: to keep the ball down. And he blasts it over the bar. Then he bursts into the box again, and crosses – so hard that Wood can’t get the tap-in he is after.
62min: These 17 minutes have offered more entertainment than the whole of the first half. It does make a difference when both sides want to play football.
59min: Newcastle go back to plan A: long ball from Shelvey, run from Almiron, shot by Saint-Maximin. Unfortunately it’s on his left foot.
Newcastle then have a minute of sustained pressure, but again the final ball is a poor one, and again it’s Saint-Maximin. Meanwhile Schar is down after a clash of heads, but he’s getting to his feet from him.
57min: Hot on the heels of the first corner, we have the first booking, as Schar fouls Fabio Silva. From the free kick, Moutinho gets away down the left and sends in a classy volleyed cross… which nobody can get on the end of.
55 minutes: Hwang, who had an anonymous first half, goes on a. great run, starting on the halfway line, ending up with twists and turns in the box. As if remembering which game he’s playing in, he doesn’t manage much of a shot, but still, we now have a proper contest.
52min: And now Burn has a chance! Another Newcastle free kick, another Wood flick-on, and this time there’s someone on the end of it as Burn gets his shot on target, saved by Sa.
51min: Wolves are at least showing more intent now. They get into the Newcastle box, where Dan Burn puts in a good firm header.
49min: We have a corner! The first of the night. It’s won by Wolves, and wasted by them too.
48 minutes: Saint-Maximin bursts into the final third, but the resulting cross is a tame one. Newcastle come again, get another cross in – same result.
46min: Wolves win a free kick in their own half, launch the ball forward for once – and send it straight out.
They’re replaying the goal that wasn’t. It was Guimaraes who was ruled offside, in the inside-right channel, as Almiron (I think) slipped him a cool backheel. Guimaraes’ neat cross bobbled off a defender and fell kindly for Wood, who did well to hook the ball in from a horizontal position. But the VAR wasn’t wrong: it was offside, narrowly but clearly.
Guimaraes collects a consolation prize as Jamie Carragher says he’s been the best player on the field. For me, Newcastle have done well as a team, outplaying a side seven places above them with the simple desire to win the ball and propel it forwards.
The free kick, taken by Schar himself, goes into the wall, which rather sums up the half. Newcastle have passed purposefully and shot poorly; Wolves have passed sideways and shot hardly at all. Things can only get better.
45+3min: The half threatens to end as it began, with Wolves playing comfy passes in their own half, but then Schar presses high and wins a free kick.
45 minutes: There will be three added minutes. It could have been more, but the ref may be a little bored.
44min: Almiron bursts into the box but… you can guess the rest. Then Wolves go up the other end as Otto plays a lovely switch to Hwang, but… you get the picture.
“Evening Tim,” says Stephen Carr. “This isn’t a great watch is it? The most notable moment was watching Jonjo Shelvey running. It was like watching a bag a treacle fall down a flight of stairs.”