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Kevin Nolan struck a wondrous winning goal as Newcastle made the promotion party all the more wild with a 2-1 win over Sheffield United. The Blades struck first thanks to a header from Richard Cresswell but a penalty from Peter Lovenkrands and the spectacular winner from Nolan ensured Newcastle United were promoted in style.

Hours before kick-off, St. James’ Park was buzzing with an electric atmosphere as 48,000+ toon fans celebrated their instant return to the top flight of English football. Cardiff’s 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest at tea time meant the Geordies didn’t even have to win a point as Kevin Blackwell brought his troops to Tyneside. But that just wasn’t going to happen.

The Magpies started brightly and Wayne Routledge had the first chance to send Tyneside into raptures as he was played through on goal by Nolan. However the former Spurs flyer lacked a bit of composure and sliced his shot wide of Steve Simonsen’s near post.

It looked as though the Toon were going to go on from here and tear the Blades apart but on 22 minutes the huge crowd were silenced as Richard Cresswell headed in from a corner. Sheffield’s roughing up tactics worked well as Steve Harper was blocked off and Cresswell headed James Harper’s centre past the helpless keeper. As the ball was about to cross the line there was a touch from Darius Henderson but the striker’s seemingly legitimate attempt to claim the goal was largely ignored by both his team-mates and the person who writes the names on the scoreboard!

The goal had a strange effect on the crowd because Sheffield scoring first simply wasn’t in the script! It wasn’t long after though that Newcastle started to turn the screw on their opponents, Routledge again going close and Lovenkrands seeing his sweet volley palmed over the bar by Simonsen.

From the resulting corner, the Blades’ rough-em-up tactic backfired when “hard-man” Chris Morgan was quite literally wrestling Andy Carroll to stop him getting to the ball. The referee seen the infringement and warned the pair as the corner was to be retaken. But with the ref’s words still ringing in his ears, Morgan once again grappled Carroll and preventing him getting a clean header on the cross and the official pointed to the spot. It was a schoolboy error for an experienced defender to make and Lovenkrands punished him sufficiently by sending Simonsen the wrong way from 12 yards.

The Sheffield management and coaches protested furiously and it all culminated in former Toon skipper Gary Speed, now a coach at Bramall Lane, being sent to the stands.

As the second period began you could see only one team was going to go on and take all the points and the Geordies had a great chance when the outstanding Jose Enrique played a slicing pass through for Lovenkrands to run on to. The Dane delayed his shot though and Simonsen was relieved to see the ball flash over his crossbar.

Lovenkrands had another ferocious attempt soon after that would have still been going now if the crowd wasn’t there and Jonas Gutierrez nearly showed us his Spiderman mask after he skinned Nyron Nosworthy and seen his shot tipped onto the post. But it was only a matter of time before the Geordies got their goal, and what a goal.

After a Danny Guthrie cross was cleared, Danny Simpson lifted the ball over the Blades defence and Lovenkrands had kept himself onside to meet the pass. The Dane kept his awareness and cushioned a header for Kevin Nolan to take flight and execute a perfect scissor kick that left Simonsen with no chance. The goal was perfectly fitting for the occasion and worthy of winning any match, needless to say it also sent the crowd into a crescendo of noise that could have deafened many of the fans.

It’s been a fantastic and thoroughly professional job all season from the Magpies considering how many players they lost and all the circus activity that happened at board level. The Premier League has missed the black and white stripes of Newcastle and they will soon be reunited with their one-time “second team”.