IN his first seven league games as a Newcastle United player, Callum Wilson has scored six goals. Just imagine what he would be capable of if he was playing for a team that actually created chances.

As it is, Wilson is excelling despite having to feed off scraps, with his latest brace securing Newcastle’s third league win of the season and lifting Steve Bruce’s side back into the top half of the table.

The £20m that was shelled out to sign the England international in the summer already looks like money well spent, especially when posited against the £40m that was lavished on Joelinton 12 months earlier. Perhaps even Mike Ashley will now concede there is something to be said for investing in tried-and-tested Premier League talent.

Wilson was the key figure in yesterday’s opening goal, winning Newcastle’s third penalty of the season as he drew a clumsy foul from Everton midfielder Andre Gomes before producing his third successful conversion as he hammered a shot past Robin Olsen, who was playing in place of the demoted Jordan Pickford.

The 28-year-old then claimed a second goal half-an-hour later, with his predatory qualities coming to the fore as he burst into the six-yard box to convert Ryan Fraser’s cross. Having played with the Scotsman on countless occasions at Bournemouth, he knew where the ball was delivered and made sure he was in the right place to make the most of it.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s stoppage-time strike ensured a few last-second jitters, but unlike last season’s game at Goodison Park, when Florian Lejeune scored two goals after the 90-minute mark to secure an unlikely 2-2 draw, Everton were unable to complete what would have been unwarranted recovery.

Which begs the question, what should we make of this Newcastle team? They remain extremely hard to love, with their in-built conservatism and steadfast reluctance to cut loose, but it is hard not to admire their effectiveness and resolve. Just when they appear to be heading in the wrong direction, they invariably find a way to grind out a result.

They only had 37 per cent of possession in yesterday’s game, yet even the most ardent Evertonian would have to concede they were the better side.

They were defensively secure throughout, with Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez impressing against the in-form Calvert-Lewin, and Bruce’s decision to stick with the five-man defensive formation that was introduced against Wolves proved justified.

They struggled to create much in the attacking third in the first half, although they created the best opportunity before the interval with Allan Saint-Maximin breaking into the box before shooting at Olsen, but their threat gradually increased in the second period.

Much of that was down to the thrusting runs of Sean Longstaff, who produced easily his best display of the season as he broke from one end of the pitch to the other, although the key difference between the two teams was ultimately the effectiveness of Wilson.

Newcastle supporters have a long-standing reputation for worshipping their centre-forwards, and in their current number 13, they can rally around a goalscorer with a proven knack for finding the net.

Not, however, that a flurry of goals looked likely during a largely soporific first half. It was the 32nd minute before Olsen was called into action for the first time, although to be fair to Newcastle, Saint-Maximin’s driven effort came at the end of a flowing counter-attacking move that would have graced any game.

Miguel Almiron sent Wilson away down the left, he drifted inside before clipping a perfectly-weighted pass into Saint-Maximin’s path, and the Frenchman steadied himself before firing in a low shot that Olsen saved.

It was a glimpse of what Newcastle’s front three are capable of fashioning, but only served to heighten the sense of frustration at just how rare such an occurrence has been this season. Why are the Magpies’ forwards so reluctant to play with the shackles off?

Bruce’s tactical instructions are clearly a major factor, with Almiron, stationed on the left of midfield, spending much of yesterday’s game tracking the runs of Everton full-back Jonjoe Kenny rather than playing 20 or 30 yards further up the field in an attempt to get his opponent on the back foot. He carried out his defensive duties diligently, but that is hardly the best part of his game.

Nevertheless, the fact that Karl Darlow made it to the interval without having been called into action confirmed that Bruce’s attempts to negate Everton’s attacking threats were working.

It helped that neither James Rodriguez nor Richarlison were in the visitors’ side, although Newcastle’s defenders still deserved credit for the way in which they dealt with Calvert-Lewin.

Everton’s England marksman had a first-half effort blocked by a sliding Lascelles, and also saw Longstaff cut out what would otherwise have been a dangerous through ball from Kenny, but for long periods, he cut a frustrated figure as Lascelles and Fernandez calmly mopped up around him.

With Jeff Hendrick filling in for Isaac Hayden at the base of midfield and successfully shackling Everton’s chief playmaker, Gomes, Newcastle were much more solid than had been in the case in their previous home game against Manchester United.

Their superiority was rewarded 11 minutes after the break, although their opener owed much to the impetuousness of Gomes, who clipped Wilson’s standing leg as he swung to try to clear Longstaff’s corner.

It took an age for VAR to rubber-stamp Stuart Attwell’s on-field award of a spot-kick, but Wilson retained his composure as he dispatched a crisp finish past Olsen.

Everton’s Swedish goalkeeper produced a fine save moments later as he kept out Longstaff’s low strike with his foot, with the Newcastle midfielder having turned neatly in the box after receiving the ball from Wilson.

The Magpies doubled their lead with six minutes left, with Fraser’s pace proving too much for the Everton defence. The substitute raced past Yerry Mina after latching on to a pass from Jamal Lewis, and stood up an excellent cross that Wilson turned home at the back post.

That should have been that, but Everton gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the first minute of stoppage time. Alex Iwobi slid over a low cross from the right-hand side, and having cut a frustrated figure for most of the previous 90 minutes, Calvert-Lewin stole ahead of his marker to prod home a near-post strike.

Suddenly, Newcastle were nervous, but while Olsen came upfield for a corner in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Darlow left his line decisively to collect the ball.

The final whistle followed a couple of seconds later, ensuring Newcastle were able to complete a difficult week containing matches against Wolves and Everton with a four-point haul. Their football in both games wasn’t always pretty, but it is hard to argue against the end result.