St. James' Park
Sky Bet Championship
By Tom Easterby - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 3 (Clark 11, Gayle 15, 49)
Brentford 1 (Hogan 52)
A Dwight Gayle double and Ciaran Clark's second goal for the Club gave Newcastle United a 3-1 win over Brentford at St. James' Park.
Republic of Ireland international Clark got United off to a flyer with a fine header, before Gayle's excellent drilled finish put Rafa Benitez's side two up inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Gayle tapped home from close range shortly after half time to make it 3-0 to the hosts, but Scott Hogan pulled one back for the Bees from close range.
And the victory - which was orchestrated by midfielder Jonjo Shelvey - means the Magpies are now unbeaten in five games, in all competitions.
Benitez made just one change to the side that beat Rotherham United 1-0 in the last game before the international break, with Ayoze Perez coming into the side in place of Mo Diame.
With Scotland winger Matt Ritchie absent due to illness, Christian Atsu started on the right flank once more following his superb winner in that victory over the Millers a fortnight ago.
In a scrappy opening, it was Brentford who squandered the first opportunity. A crossfield ball from Romaine Sawyers found full back Maxime Colin on the right, and his cross from deep was perfect for the umarked frontman Hogan. However, the forward couldn't keep his header down.
But moments later, Newcastle seized the advantage. A superb delivery from Shelvey flew just over the head of Gayle, but Clark anticipated the cross perfectly and headed low into the bottom right-hand corner, leaving goalkeeper Daniel Bentley with no chance.
That 11th-minute opener seemed to settle United down, and after quarter of an hour, they made it two. Shelvey was involved again, flighting a searching ball in towards Gayle. It didn't quite reach its target, but when Atsu nudged the loose ball back into Gayle's path, the former Crystal Palace man took a touch, found himself an angle and dispatched an unerring low finsh past a helpless Bentley to double his side's lead.
It was almost three midway through the half as the Magpies continued to dominate. Yoan Gouffran's shot was pushed away by Bentley, but when the ball was turned back into the area by Shelvey and then Gayle, Perez was adjudged to have handled before the ball creeped into the net.
Atsu went close with a curling shot just before the half hour, and aside from a Nico Yennaris shot which Karl Darlow had to parry away, it was a comfortable end to the half for the hosts.
Benitez's men began the second half displaying similar intent, with Atsu flashing a cross across goal which Bentley just about got a finger to.
And it took just over three minutes of the second period for United's third goal to arrive and Shelvey, outstanding all afternoon, was again at the heart of it. The England international made an overlapping run down the left and when Gouffran played him in, he slid the ball across for Gayle to tap home his second of the day.
But the Bees responded just a minutes later. Lewis Macleod lofted a corner to the front post, where Sawyers was waiting to help it into the heart of the box. The former Walsall man's flick found Hogan, who nodded home from close range to pull one back for Dean Smith's side.
It proved merely a consolation, though, as despite the introduction of Palace loanee Sulley Kaikai to supplement their attack, Brentford struggled to carve out many more chances. At the other end, Perez tested Bentley after Atsu latched on to a Jack Colback pass and fed him and Shelvey blasted a free kick over the bar at the Gallowgate End as Newcastle pressed once more.
And while they couldn't quite find another goal, Benitez and his team thoroughly merited the points as they extended their unbeaten streak in front of a crowd of almost 52,000.
Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Karl Darlow; Vurnon Anita, Jamaal Lascelles (c) (Grant Hanley 60), Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett; Christian Atsu (DeAndre Yedlin (72), Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Colback, Yoan Gouffran (Achraf Lazaar 84); Ayoze Perez; Dwight Gayle
Subs not used: Matz Sels, Isaac Hayden, Mohamed Diame, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Brentford (4-4-1-1): Daniel Bentley; Maxime Colin, Harley Dean (c), John Egan, Andreas Bjelland (Yoann Barbet 75); Josh Clarke, Nico Yennaris (Alan McCormack 78), Ryan Woods, Lewis Macleod (Sulley Kaikai 64); Romaine Sawyers; Scott Hogan
Subs not used: Jack Bonham, Sam Saunders, Josh McEachran, Konstantin Kerschbaumer
Referee: Simon Hooper
Bookings: Newcastle United - Yoan Gouffran (26), Christian Atsu (41); Brentford - Romaine Sawyers (72), Ryan Woods (73)