By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Tuesday night's 2-1 win at Aston Villa banished some demons for Steven Taylor, who described it as one of the biggest victories of his Newcastle career.
The defender was part of the side relegated at Villa Park in May 2009 and he knew that another defeat this time around would plunge United firmly into the mire for the rest of the current campaign.
And while the Magpies are still far from safe, their first away success of the season opened up a four point gap on the Villans, who slid into the bottom three.
Goals from Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye gave Alan Pardew's men a 2-0 half-time lead but Christian Benteke's penalty four minutes after the restart saw the hosts pile on the pressure in the second period.
However Newcastle held on and, speaking to nufc.co.uk Taylor said: "I think the first half performance was the best performance in a long time for Newcastle. We outclassed them; we had power, pace, everything.
"Some of the Villa players were getting frustrated with each other because they couldn't handle what we had to offer and that was credit to our lads.
"The second half was a proper Premier League match - and what a three points that is. It was a massive, massive win. That feels like one of the most important games I've ever played in in a black and white jersey.
"That was the best feeling coming off the pitch, because it meant so much.
"It was massive and you saw after the game, all the boys together. That's what it's about here and credit to the lads - they were fantastic.
"The fans were brilliant. They stuck by us second half when the penalty went in and we didn't panic, we stuck together as a team and we played the game very well.
"We knew Villa were going to attack and try to cause us a few problems but we stood up to the challenge like men."
Taylor threw his shirt into the crowd after the final whistle and reserved special praise for debutants Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffron and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who were pitched straight into action after arriving at the club last week.
"That's what it's all about - welcome to the English league for the French boys," said the 27-year-old. "And I tell you what, every one of them put in a great shift.
"We had a chat in the (pre-match) meeting; each player spoke on the reasons why they came to the club and the gaffer got them up individually and presented them with a shirt. They told us why they wanted to come here and they want to be accepted by the players.
"The gaffer said 'make sure they sing' so I made sure each one of them got up and sang.
"I did say they could go up together and sing a little Boys II Men number but fair play to them, they got up one by one and sang in front of the lads. It's great and it's what we need at this football club - that togetherness.
"The banter was flying the night before the game and the French lads were in amongst it. Already they've been accepted by the boys. They want to come here and fight it out and that second half performance was what we need.
"And tonight we accept them massively because the grit they put in is what playing for Newcastle United means."
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