We can’t let up, we can’t stop – Eddie Howe taking nothing for granted

Newcastle are seven points clear of the relegation zone after a fifth win in six games.

Eddie Howe will not let his side relax (Richard Sellers/PA)

By Damian Spellman, PA

Eddie Howe is refusing to concede that Newcastle are on the verge of securing Premier League safety.

Saturday’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over Brighton at St James’ Park left the Magpies unbeaten in eight league outings, with five wins in their last six and, more importantly, seven points clear of the bottom three in 14th place.

However, with four successive away games at Southampton, Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham before they next play at home on April 8, Howe is taking nothing for granted.

Asked if he thought they were on the way to safety, Howe said: “No, no I don’t. I still think we’re in a relegation battle and it’s very important the players feel that because we can’t let up, we can’t stop.

“We’ve got a really difficult run of games – we’ve got four away games, which I think for any team in the Premier League is very difficult, and also they are four difficult opponents, so today was very important.

“It’s lifted us in terms of, obviously, the points, but we haven’t achieved anything.

“I saw the players in the dressing room afterwards and it’s a good sign. They’re pleased, but they’re not over the top in how they are feeling. They know we are still in the midst of a very important spell.”

Newcastle’s latest win came in a game during which they were second-best for long periods, but effectively clinched the points inside three first-half minutes when Ryan Fraser and then Fabian Schar struck.

However, they were forced to endure a concerted fightback by the visitors, who dominated possession, particularly in the second half, during which Lewis Dunk reduced the deficit with a 55th-minute header.

Howe said: “We’ve come from a long way back and we had a lot of work to do. I remember sitting here after the Watford game at home and we realised we needed to win matches, draws weren’t going to be good enough for us.

“But the players have committed to everything – again today physically, the shift they put in out of possession was huge, so the spirit and the resolve needed is there.

“There could have been improvements in our performance today, but at the moment, it’s all about the results for us and it was another good one.”

Opposite number Graham Potter was disappointed at a fourth defeat on the trot, but admitted his side had got what they deserved despite a performance of some merit.

Asked if the Seagulls had deserved more, Potter said: “Performance-wise we did a lot well, I would say, but football is about scoring one more goal than the opponent and that’s what Newcastle did, so in that respect, no. We deserve what we get.

“From our perspective, it was a blow to go 2-0 down so quickly after starting the game well, the better team and then 2-0, we have to recover, which we did.

“We weren’t great in the first half overall, but I thought we were probably the better team, and then second half we improved again and scored a good goal, pushed and pushed. But it wasn’t to be.”

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