KARL DARLOW has urged his Newcastle United team-mates to pile the pressure on promotion rivals Huddersfield Town by returning to winning ways at Ipswich this afternoon.
The Magpies travel to Portman Road looking to take another major step towards the Premier League after the disappointment of Friday night’s dramatic stoppage-time concession against Leeds.
Chris Wood’s last-gasp equaliser meant Newcastle’s lead over third-placed Huddersfield was reduced to eight points, with the Terriers continuing to boast a game in hand.
If Huddersfield were to claim maximum points from their remaining matches, Newcastle’s markedly superior goal difference would mean they needed seven points from their final four games to guarantee a top-two finish.
Claiming three of those points today would be a major fillip, particularly as Huddersfield do not kick off until 5pm, when they face a testing trip to Derby County. By the time they kick off at the Ipro Stadium, David Wagner’s side could be 11 points behind Newcastle, a scenario Darlow feels would see the pressure increase markedly.
“We definitely want to put the pressure back on them,” said the Magpies goalkeeper. “We look at every game, trying to win the game and I felt we did enough to win the game on Friday night.
“It's just football I think, and that's why it's loved around the world, because stuff like that happens. We dominated the game, and at 1-0 we needed to put it to bed but we didn’t. I was pleased with the performance though – it just didn’t happen for us.”
While Newcastle were ultimately left frustrated on Friday, their overall performance against Leeds represented one of their best displays for a number of weeks.
Leeds remain ensconced in the play-off positions, but the Magpies’ four remaining opponents –Ipswich, Preston, Cardiff and Barnsley – all find themselves stranded in mid-table with precious little to play for.
The odds remain heavily stacked in Newcastle’s favour, so while there are lessons to be learned from the defensive errors that afforded Wood a free header on Friday night, Darlow insists there is no need to panic.
“We couldn't get the right result against Leeds, but we go to Ipswich with a positive mind-set,” he said. “We have to. We have to win two or three games, we know what we need to do, and we have to make sure we do that to ensure we’re in the Premier League next year.”
Dwight Gayle remains unavailable for today’s game as he continues to struggle with a hamstring injury, and Ciaran Clark is not expected to feature either despite closing in on a return to full fitness.
Steven Taylor is a familiar name amongst the opposition ranks, but the former Newcastle centre-half will merely be an interested observer after a hamstring injury brought his season to a premature end.