Rob Elliot’s return was a lively affair at St James’ Park as Newcastle United’s under-23 side swept Aston Villa aside in an entertaing clash.
It finished 4-2 to the home side as a young Villa side struggled to cope with their height and dead balls but for Elliot it was an eventful night, despite spending most of the evening with little to do.
But ... now that he is back playing ... will Rafa have the balls to drop Sels from the first team squad and bring back Elliot?
OK, it make take another couple of weeks, but it HAS to be done!
United ’s goals came via headed efforts from Curtis Good, Stuart Findlay and Tom Heardman. Liam Smith added a fourth but the night began badly.
Elliot conceded before he’d even had the chance to get any mud on his gloves when Corey Blackett-Taylor swept home within the opening minute. And then in injury time he conceded again when Lubo Satka put through his own goal.
After the injury trauma that he’s been through, Elliot will need no reminders that football can be a cruel game.
This was a comeback nine months in the making that took just seconds to turn sour. United’s goalkeeper had barely got his bearings at St James’ Park before Blackett-Taylor had tapped home from close range.
It was an unfortunate start to the night but it wasn’t the defining moment for the Ireland stopper, who was largely untroubled by an inexperienced Villa front-line. That came just before injury time when Jerrell Sellars, a late sub for Villa, was freed in the box. He steadied himself to shoot and it looked like Elliot’s goal would be breached – only for the experienced United man to palm over the bar. It was a reminder of the shot-stopping abilities that earned him player of the year last season.
And after all the blood, sweat and tears as he’s fought back from the cruciate ligament injury suffered back in March, it will have felt very satisfying for Elliot.
The one thing you could hear above everything was Elliot. He was the senior presence on the pitch, cajoling and organising a young side.
Elliot was a popular and positive influence on Newcastle last year: his commitment shining through when others went missing. Having him back will be a big asset for Newcastle, both in terms of the competition for places and also the positive influence on others.