11 Mar Matt Ritchie urges Newcastle to take survival bid one step at a time
Matt Ritchie has warned Newcastle not to get carried away as they attempt to ease their way over the Premier League finishing line.
Saturday’s 3-0 win over Southampton, which came four weeks after they beat Manchester United in their previous home game, extended their recent run to one defeat in six league games.
Only leaders Manchester City, twice, and Liverpool have beaten the Magpies in their last 12 Premier League matches.
A third successive win at St James’ Park against Huddersfield on March 31 would leave Rafael Benitez’s men within touching distance of safety.
However, Ritchie told NUFC TV: “We need to take one step at a time. We’ve had a few good results, we need to continue to work hard, do what we have been doing.
“Details of things that we have maybe not been so good at earlier in the season, we’ve now put right and performances are coming together as a whole now and we’re performing really well as a team.
“We need to continue to work as we have been, concentrate on that and hopefully we can keep picking up points.”
A Newcastle side inspired by Jonjo Shelvey’s vision and passing got off to the perfect start with just 63 seconds played when Kenedy expertly controlled his pass, span past Cedric Soares and beat Saints keeper Alex McCarthy.
It was the Chelsea loanee’s first goal for the club, and his second arrived less than 28 minutes later when he rounded off a pacy counter-attack constructed by Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle.
Having squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at Bournemouth on February 24, they knew they could not relax, but the job was completed when Ritchie steered home a 57th-minute shot from another Shelvey pass.
The Scotland international said: “Every three points now is massive, it’s huge. We need to get to that 40-point mark ASAP and three points is a good step in the right direction.
“We need to continue to pick up points, win games and hopefully we can get ourselves safe.”
The win left the Magpies five points clear of the drop zone on 32 points and knowing their fate lies within their own hands.
Southampton headed off on the long journey home sitting just a point above the bottom three after a run of one win in 17 league games, and with manager Mauricio Pellegrino having accused some of his players of giving up.
Pellegrino said: “Everyone thinks we don’t have the capacity, that we are not good enough to play at this level – this is part of our life.
“But okay, next weekend we have got another opportunity to try to move forward in the FA Cup, we have got eight [league] games to go. We have a lot of things to show and I think we will do it.
“But overall, we have to change. We have to switch on our spirit and prepare our attitude to compete much better.”