NEWCASTLE: It’s lift-off for Eddie Howe at Newcastle United as the Magpies made it 15th time lucky by claiming their first Premier League victory of the season.
Fourteen fruitless encounters previous went out the window on Tyneside, with the roof nearly coming off St James’ Park as Callum Wilson’s solo strike claimed a vital victory in this relegation battle six-pointer.
And with it, United climbed off the foot of the Premier League table, where they’ve sat for most of Howe’s reign, as well as claiming their first clean sheet of the campaign.
This was a win the players, Howe, the fans and most importantly the new owners — PIF, RB Sports & Media and PCP Capital Partners — so badly needed.
As has been the case in all of his four games since officially taking the reins, Howe decided again to tweak things, making two changes to the side who drew with Norwich City last time out.
One of those changes was enforced with Ciaran Clark suspended, in came returning skipper Jamaal Lascelles, while Miguel Almiron replaced Ryan Fraser.
Cagey and tentative about sums up the first half hour for United, who were unwillingly drawn into playing the Clarets’ game.
High balls, percentage football and plenty of crosses into the box set the early tone of this one as the Magpies relied upon Martin Dubravka to keep things even.
The Slovak, instrumental since his return two games previous, needed the strongest of strong hands to deny Johann Gudmundsson’s powerful, driving effort.
Again Dubravka was on hand to deny a header from Burnley form man Maxwel Cornet, who was forced off with an injury late in the half — and with the Frenchman’s exit, so United began to establish a foothold.
And with that, the chances began to flow. Wilson, largely anonymous to this point, saw a goalward volley blocked from an Allan Saint-Maximin cross.
Moments later and the goal the whole of Tyneside craved arrived. And it was talisman and top-scorer Wilson who delivered.
England keeper Nick Pope rose highest above a crowded area to pluck a telegraphed Joe Willock cross. But a slip of concentration later and the tumbling Pope had spilled it and Wilson was cool and calm in his finish to crash home over three defenders blocking his path to goal.
Seemingly heading into half-time ahead, this wouldn’t be Newcastle United without a scare — and they almost gifted the Clarets a way back in on the cusp of the break.
Matt Lowton’s searching ball from the right found Cornet’s replacement Matej Vydra in acres of space and the Czech Republic international spooned his poor effort over, when well-placed.
After the break there was an air of calm about United, that was to remain until the predictably nervy later moments.
Jonjo Shelvey began to dictate, with Lascelles imperious on his return to the centre of defence.
The Magpies almost doubled their lead on a number of occasions, Almiron coming closest when he saw a goal-bound curler at the famous Gallowgate End flicked over the top by Nathan Collins.
Almiron, unlucky not to net his first of the season on the day, also saw Pope produce one of the saves of the season to tip around the post as United pushed for a second.
That second didn’t come and the invitable retreat to their own half began but this time, where they have failed so often this season, the Magpies saw out the game for the win — a win which will resonate around the top flight, with January just around the corner. The crisis of confidence is over.
No longer are United the only team in the Football League pyramid not to have won a game, no longer are they the top flight’s whipping boys. They’ll have to create history to stay in the Premier League, and survival looks a long, long way off, but this is a start.
Meanwhile, the visit to Leicester City next weekend now looks a whole lot more winnable, especially with that three-point hoodoo gone up in smoke.