By Tom Easterby
We continue our review of the 2013/14 campaign, which saw Newcastle finish tenth in the Barclays Premier League. This week's instalment covers February and March, which saw a couple of last-gasp, dramatic home victories, but also some heavy defeats...
February began in miserable fashion for United. A 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby meant that Newcastle had now failed to win a derby since August 2011's 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, courtesy of Ryan Taylor's free-kick.
Fabio Borini, Adam Johnson and Jack Colback scored the goals that stuck the knife into the Magpies in front of their own support.
Newcastle were on the end of another 3-0 drubbing a week later, this time away at Jose Mourinho's Chelsea. Eden Hazard inspired his side to victory, netting a hat-trick to wrap up three well-deserved points for the Blues at Stamford Bridge.
To further compound the misery, Tottenham Hotspur managed to grab four goals at St. James' Park next time out - a double from Emmanuel Adebayor and one each from Paulinho and Nacer Chadli - to make the form guide grim reading for United fans.
The month was to end on a high note, though, as Aston Villa were dispatched in front of the Gallowgate. Loic Remy's stoppage-time strike was enough to edge past the Midlanders, who proved stubborn opponents before Remy rattled home the winner, twisting and turning inside the box before smashing home at the Gallowgate End.
Goal of the month
For the first time this season, there's just a solitary goal to choose from. It took three weeks to arrive, but Remy's clincher at home to Villa was well worth the wait. Perhaps not a goal that will live too long in the memory, but it was important in the sense that, after conceding ten in three games and scoring none, it got United back on the right track.
Fresh from their morale-boosting win over Aston Villa at the end of February, Newcastle went to Hull in good spirits on the first day of March.
Moussa Sissoko's double added to a goal from Loic Remy, while Vurnon Anita's first strike of the season sealed an impressive 4-1 win at the KC Stadium, rendering Curtis Davies' 46th-minute header irrelevant.
The emphatic win was marred somewhat, however, by a touchline altercation involving Alan Pardew which led to the Newcastle manager receiving a five-match stadium ban and a further three-match touchline ban, in addition to a heavy fine.
With John Carver leading the team from the touchline, a visit to Craven Cottage to face lowly Fulham was next on the agenda.
Algerian international Ashkan Dejagah's well-struck shot found its way past Tim Krul to give the Cottagers a priceless lifeline in their relegation scrap, but there was a significant positive to take from the defeat in London - 17-year-old Academy graduate Adam Armstrong came off the bench to make his Premier League debut with four minutes remaining.
The front man fired a shot over the bar in the closing seconds which, although not enough to salvage a point, was enough to indicate that the England Under-17 international has a bright future ahead of him on Tyneside.
Tony Pulis had presided over an upsurge in form since stepping into the Crystal Palace hotseat in November 2013, and by the time the Eagles ventured north to St. James' Park in mid-March, their top-flight status was almost certainly secured.
A committed performance saw United put a considerable amount of pressure on the visitors, whose resolute defending and speed on the counter-attack meant the game was in the balance for much of the 90 minutes.
It took a last-gasp header from Papiss Cisse - his first goal at home since January's FA Cup tie with Cardiff - to finally break the deadlock and grab all three points.
The Senagalese striker instinctively diverted subsititute Hatem Ben Arfa's cross past Julian Speroni to win it for the Magpies, keeping hopes of a top-half finish well and truly alive.
A 3-0 midweek home defeat against an impressive Everton outfit, for whom England starlet Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu were outstanding, opened the floodgates for a disastrous run of form which saw six games pass without recording a victory.
Southampton's international frontline of Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana were next to shoot down Newcastle, with more than 2,000 United fans suffering a long trip back from the south coast after a 4-0 defeat at the end of the month.
The only bright spot was the return from illness of full-back Davide Santon, who made a second-half appearance as a substitute.
Goal of the month
The majority of the goals scored in March came in the 4-1 win at Hull City - one of the best performances of the season.
Papiss Cisse also deserves a mention for his winner against a stubborn Palace defence.
So it is a tie this month - Sissoko's belter at the KC Stadium and the number nine's nod to beat Pulis' charges both merit the award in different ways.