Monday 21st April 2003, 3.00pm.
St. James' Park
Poor start to the day gave way to sunshine by kick-off. And a
fat lot of good that did us.
1 - 1
37 mins Gareth Barry held
back Dyer and Jeff Winter awarded us the free-kick. Barry booted the ball
away, was promptly booked and that show of dissent saw the free-kick advanced ten yards towards the
Gallowgate end. Cue Nobby who
fancied his chances and promptly curled it over the wall and into the opposite
corner to the one Enckelman was protecting. Perfect. 1-0
Half time: Newcastle
1 Aston Villa 0
69 mins The recently-arrived Dublin wriggled free
of his marker from a free-kick and had an unchallenged header that he did
well to steer into the far corner. Repeated reviews of the goal don't
confirm who should have been marking Dion, but Andy Townsend pointed the
finger at Bramble on "the Premiership." 1-1
Full time: Newcastle
1 Aston Villa 1
Sir Bobby said:
"I said two weeks ago that we needed
three victories and a draw from the next five games to ensure it. Well,
we've got one point, so it would appear that we need three victories from
the last three games.
"On paper, we've got a team that's capable of doing it - but we don't play
on paper. Yes, we've dropped two points and it's disappointing, but it's
gone and we just have to look forward to the next three games.
"Nine points will do it, but it might be less because I'm saying nine
points on the basis that all the other teams pick up maximum points as
"But they might not do that, so nine points might not be what is required.
But that's what we've got to set ourselves as a target, and that's the
"It was a clever free-kick by Nobby, but it was never easy. Their victory
against Chelsea obviously motivated them and they were up for it and they
fought very hard.
"We lost Dublin on the back post, the one dangerous header of all that
they could have mustered against us, which is hard to take, really.
"Everybody has voiced their opinion in the dressing room as to what
went wrong and we will watch the video with interest. There's a lot of
anxiety around the place and a few nerves are frayed.
tension in the air and we can't hide it or hide from it. It won't be
possible to reduce the tension with a derby coming up, but we've been
through it before and we must come through it again"
it's over now and we must move on. We had lost Alan and Jonathan so there
were a few changes which had to be made at set-pieces but it was still a
poor goal to concede. Alan has had to have four stitches and may be
required to wear some kind of protection against Sunderland, but he should
be OK for the derby.
glad we can't put Mick McCarthy's side down because I wouldn't have wanted
to do that. But we have to be ruthless and make sure we win on Wearside."
"I have great respect, like
most people do, for Bobby. I've known him all of my life - even when I
started out he was there.
"I can understand the
frustration here. Everybody at this club is wanting to push on and push
upwards. It's taken major strides forward, this club, the stadium.
"They have done so, so well -
but with that comes the weight of expectancy.
"I thought it was a good point for us, one that we
never looked like we were going to get in the first half.".
"The 90 minutes today has pretty well represented our very inconsistent
season. In the first half, we played as though we were very much letting
things happen and in the second half, we played to make things happen.
"The inconsistency of our season has been a major disappointment. We've
taken points off all of the six top teams now and we're in 13th position
and have been looking over our shoulders.
"We were getting dragged into a relegation battle - it's crazy. It's been
crazy because we shouldn't be down there.
"Twelve games ago, we won at Middlesbrough - which still remains our only
league win away from home, so that tells you our problem.
“Dion took it very well. I couldn’t necessarily see us getting back
into it, but we just wanted to change it a little bit and tried to make
Dion the focus of our attack.
“We thought we might
get some joy and it was a well worked free-kick.
“At one stage I
wondered how we were going to get back in it because one away win all
season isn’t going to get you anywhere but the bottom half of the table.
“I thought we might
be put under more pressure by Newcastle and that’s what disappointed me
about giving the goal away. It was self-inflicted.”
Talking about the Barry incident that led to our goal:
"It was an absolutely crazy lack of discipline. There’s no excuse
for professional footballers not knowing that if a referee gives a
decision and you show dissent, you are going to be cautioned and they are
going to walk the ball 10 yards further to your goal.
“It was a completely
unnecessary caution and I see it as a lack of professionalism. People say
they don’t mean those things, but I’m sorry it’s a lack of
“I thought it was
best to leave Barry in the dressing room because he’d given the goal
away, had to have his cut seen to and is suspended anyway for the next two
Whittingham is only 18 and has potential.”
Our 500th draw at St.James' Park in all
Season stats (Premiership):
Bellamy: 25 starts, 7 goals, 1 goal in last 12.
Dyer: 30 starts, 2 goals, 2 goals in last 36.
Solano: 26 starts, 6 goals, 4 goals in last 13.
Viana: 8 starts, 0 goals.
Jenas: 20 starts, 5 goals.
Speed: 23 starts, 2 goals.
Robert: 25 starts, 5 goals.
We failed to beat Villa for only the second time at SJP in the
2002/03: Drew 1-1 Solano
2001/02: Won 3-0 Bellamy 2, Shearer
2000/01: Won 3-1 Glass, Cort, og
1999/00: Lost 0-1 No scorer
1998/99: Won 2-1 Shearer, Ketsbaia
1997/98: Won 1-0 Beresford
1996/97: Won 4-3 Ferdinand 2, Shearer, Howey
1995/96: Won 1-0 Ferdinand
1994/95: Won 3-1 Venison, Beardsley 2
1993/94: Won 5-1 Bracewell, Beardsley 2, Cole, Sellars.
Our second home draw of the season, the first coming against
Arsenal, also 1-1. With one game to play on our own ground our record is W14
L2 D2. That compares to last season's tally of W12 L4 D3.
However in winning those extra games we've scored less goals - 35
this season against 40 last time. A hatful against Birmingham City
would put that right, and let me reduce my medication.........
This was the most nervy ninety minutes against this lot since the
championship season that never was.
Almost seven years ago to the day
we edged past Villa 1-0 before a vastly relieved SJP crowd to keep our
title hopes alive, and although it was far short of a classic we pressed
until Ferdinand's goal came, and then kept the Villans out by any means.
Fast forward to 2003, and a season in which we've habitually triumphed on
home soil and served up win after win, even if on occasions the
performance was less than memorable.
However, all that came crashing down last weekend when the men from Old
Trafford came to toon, and suddenly our air of invincibility has gone. We
may have been winning home games without quite knowing how sometimes, but crucially we've lost that knack and are
Despite being a goal up after some daftness from the opposition and
application of the rules by the tangoman put a chance within Nobby's
range, we never worked ourselves into position to get that killer second
goal. Unconvincing is the word.
And just like Saturday's depressing afternoon at Loftus Road, we were
again made to pay by a team on the verges of trouble in the league, but
hardly scrapping for their lives.
One looked across the pitch for big personalities, big hearts, big
performers to win this game for us. Unfortunately there wasn't much that
took the eye....
Clad in bandages, Shearer was looking groggy and not at his best. Bellamy
had once again descended into a sulk after Winter failed to penalise a
Villa player for upending him just outside the area. Dyer somehow managed
to fill in 90 minutes doing something totally unmemorable in the middle,
Solano never got down the channels into cross-delivering range and as for
The perennially popular Portuguese player was given his treasured start in
a central position, on a sunny day at St.James' with the prospect of some
space to work in. He responded by claiming some early possession, but then
proceeded to drop deeper and deeper down the field, unable to get involved
By the end he was a forlorn figure, lacking only a Yorkshire accent and a
pudding bowl haircut from being a facsimile of Batty - that's Batty the
incisive passer, not Batty the midfield destroyer. On this evidence
frankly, Viana could do with following Chopra to Watford to learn how to
play football in this country in the same way Bernard got his wake-up call at
Feethams - the difference is we got Olivier for nowt, while Hugo cost a
Maybe we'd have held on for a win, had Woodgate not been forced off him a
hamstring pull and the defence not been crucially weakened at that set
piece. Maybe we'd have done better than a late Lua effort against the post
if we'd given him some of the damn ball after bringing him on, rather
leaving him stuck out wide, unmarked.
Even though a 1-0 win would have been as important and lustily
celebrated as that 1996 victory, the cracks that have appeared in our
squad would only have been papered over.
But it wouldn't have mattered to be honest- at this time of the season it's not only the teams in the relegation scrap
that need to a adopt a win at any costs mentality. Our lot have failed to
impose their will on two inferior clubs in succession, and not even had
the good grace to look that bothered about it. There has to be a middle
ground between the idle dawdlings of Bellamy or Dyer and the regrettable
daftness of Griffin against Fulham.
A few months ago we laughed about how the day of reckoning on April 26th
was coming, amid talk of screwing down the mackem coffin lid. We just
assumed our forward progression would continue, but now suddenly we're the
ones in the spotlight.
Champs league qualification failure is unthinkable (both in on-field
prestige and off-field finance) but denying us that is the only thing
McCarthy's motley crew have left to cling to, having failed even to drag
themselves off rock bottom.
Please don't give the bastards the satisfaction lads. And stop feeling
sorry for yourselves - if you believe the world is against you, it
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