In the space of exactly a month, Newcastle United have bounced back from a humiliating defeat at Brighton to move nine points clear of the relegation zone.

There have been some awful performances this season - those losses at Brentford and Sheffield United will also live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons - but, crucially, Newcastle have shown some fight since that 3-0 defeat at the Amex last month.

There have been three very different tests in recent weeks but Newcastle have recovered from an in-game setback each time: after taking the lead against Spurs, the Magpies ultimately had to come from behind to secure a late draw; after trailing at Burnley, Bruce's side again rallied to win the game; and, finally, after throwing away a two-goal lead, the black-and-whites regrouped to beat West Ham.

Newcastle got it so right in the first half against West Ham and although the Hammers were the architects of their own downfall - Issa Diop put the ball threw his own net for the Magpies' opener and Lukasz Fabianski dropped a clanger for the second - the hosts took full advantage.

West Ham appeared stumped by Newcastle's game plan; the black-and-whites allowed Moyes' team to dominate possession in fairly harmless areas and then looked to break quickly themselves.

Having gone down to 10 men, after Craig Dawson received a second booking, the high-flying Hammers were in danger of losing their heads.

At one point, just before half-time, Jesse Lingard even attempted to square up to the towering Federico Fernandez after taking issue with the Newcastle defender's hands-on approach as they battled for the ball.

Yet, to their credit, West Ham rallied after the break as Newcastle inexplicably retreated and Diop pulled one back before Lingard equalised from the spot in the 80th minute.

The momentum was with West Ham but that penalty, and the introduction of Joe Willock, sparked Newcastle into life and the midfielder put the hosts back in front just a minute after coming on with his second touch.

Andros Townsend, who was watching the game as a pundit for Premier League Productions, could not help but celebrate Willock's winner as his former side went on to secure a crucial victory.

Joe Willock of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and West Ham United
Joe Willock of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and West Ham United

However, amusingly, Townsend later realised Newcastle were now only 'three points behind us' and the Crystal Palace winger admitted he had 'to be worried now'.

Townsend, of course, experienced the pain of going down with Newcastle in 2016 and the mid-season arrival quickly realised all was not right behind the scenes after Jamaal Lascelles lamented 'no one gives a f***' after being sent off at Everton.

Unlike in 2016 and 2009, when Newcastle also went down, these players do not lack heart. Indeed, captain Lascelles has repeatedly said how this is a 'really tight group' rather than lamenting how the Magpies needed 'players who care' as he did five years ago.

It says it all that Willock, a mid-season arrival, has bought into that spirit. Willock watched Newcastle's win at Everton from the comfort of his hotel room a few days before joining the Magpies in January and, even from afar, the Arsenal loanee noticed how Bruce's side 'looked like a family' because they all wanted to 'fight for each other'.

Willock ultimately joined Newcastle to start more games in the Premier League and it would have been easy for the midfielder to sulk after failing to even get on at Burnley last week.

Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley

Recent fallout over the long-running takeover saga at Newcastle United hasn't just been the talk of Tyneside - it was the talk of the footballing world.

Now, Steve Bruce must recollect his team and push forward without the change of ownership and new backing.

However, the twists and turns aren't over, with current owner Mike Ashley 'considering all options' after the Premier League rejected the £300m takeover.

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However, after again being left out of the starting XI on Saturday, Willock came on and won Newcastle the game against West Ham.

It was rather fitting that Willock scored the winner with his head given how the 21-year-old has diligently been working on his heading in training of late and you can't fault the youngster's attitude after Bruce told him he had not been doing enough of late to start games.

"Whether you're on the bench, not in the squad or on the pitch, you have to push each other and that's what we're trying to do," Willock told Sky Sports after the 3-2 win.

"I feel, collectively, we've grown through the hard times. We decided that we have to stick together and that's what we're trying to do now."

Although Willock's goals have helped Newcastle earn four precious points in the last fortnight, and the returning Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin have given everyone a lift, that pact has been key to the Magpies taking a giant step towards safety.

Of course, being on course to stay up should never be celebrated, and this season has been far from a success, but Newcastle supporters can at least breathe a sigh of relief once more.