The Royals had previously struggled to reproduce the zesty displays that took them to eighth last term in their first top-flight campaign.
But they dominated on this occasion and thoroughly deserved a late winner from substitute Shane Long.
Coppell said: "Our performance was more like the way we played last year - there was a lot of energy about it. From my point of view it was like seeing an old friend. I enjoyed it."
Michael Duberry's clumsy own goal gave Newcastle hope of a point but Long popped up within a handful of seconds of replacing Lita to win the game.
Coppell said: "His family was over from Ireland. I was umming and ahhing about whether to make a change but the timing was fortunately exquisite.
"He wasn't on at me to bring him on - he never does - but he is certainly one of the quickest to get on. Some of the more seasoned pro's seem to take an age.
"Consistently this year substitutes have made an impact in our games. It's a trend of this season. Shane came on and introduced some real gusto to our play. He has bags of energy and is a young man with a point to prove, which is a nice combination.
"And because he has not been through an apprenticeship he does things differently in an unexpected way. Sometimes that can be frustrating for us just as much as it is dangerous for the opposition."