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Season 2002-03 
Match Report 2002-03 - Southampton (h) 

Saturday 4th November 2002, 3pm.

St. James' Park

Conditions: no clouds on the horizon at present


Newcastle United 2 - 1 Southampton


66 seconds Ormerod and Caldwell tussled for the ball down the right and it bounced for  O'Brien to clear. However his hooked ball fell straight into the path of Beattie, and without breaking stride the in-form striker cracked in a lethal right-footed shot that flew past Given in the Leazes goal via his right hand upright. 0-1

41 mins A Griffin through ball found Dyer on the right of the opposition area, but he  seemed to have missed his chance to centre the ball but twisted towards the byline and evaded Bridge, before crossing low for Ameobi to force his way past Lundekvam and knock the ball home from close range. 1-1

Half time:  Newcastle 1 Southampton 1

54 mins Viana galloped through centre field as opponents dithered about making a decisive tackle and slipped the ball across to the left hand side of the Saints box into a space beyond both Ameobi and cluster of defenders. Galloping on to it was Hughes and he toook a touch with his left foot before toe-poking the ball with his right past Niemi low into the opposite corner of the goal  2-1

Full time:  Newcastle 2 Southampton 1

We Said

Sir Bobby commented:

"We've had a terrific week. We've gone to sixth with a game in hand and I've got nothing but praise for the players because of what we did on Wednesday and we've done it again.

"A lot of people thought we would drop points, but we haven't.

"The players summoned up massive reserves of energy. Nobody flagged and we gave a very competitive, combative performance with a fair amount of quality."

"We have massive reserves of energy. This team really amazes me at times.

"For 20 minutes we were poor. We weren't jet-lagged because we'd only been on the plane an hour in midweek, but we were travel-weary.

"Then for the last 20 minutes of the half we were like the Newcastle United I know we can be. We picked up our rhythm, we were three yards faster and we started to win the personal duels.

"Kieron Dyer's brilliance helped turn the match. It was brilliant work to turn his opponent in the box, hit the byeline and stay calm to pick Shola Ameobi out.

"We should have had a penalty - the referee made a big mistake - but we still managed to get the win.

"Hugo Viana benefited from a good match in Feyenoord and some briefing about playing in the position for us and it was a beautiful pass for Aaron Hughes' goal that won the game.

"It was a shame it (Shearer's goal) didn't come on Saturday because I think Alan would have liked to get it against one of his former clubs, but it will happen eventually."

Alan Shearer said:

About the penalty:

"The referee told me he thought the keeper touched the ball and pushed it out for a corner which I find strange.

"But at the start of the second half he told me that if he had made a mistake then he apologised. He can't say more than that. I am sure he will know he has made a mistake once he sees the video."

About his old side:

"Southampton did very well and pushed us all the way. They gave us an almighty scare and to come back and take three points was a big win for us.

"Gone are the days where people are looking at Saints to go down. That is the job Gordon Strachan had done. I am a big admirer of him. He is a tremendous manager and I have the utmost respect for him - and not just because he praised my display!

"He has done a good job and they have improved a lot in the last few years. Whether they can make the top half is another matter.

"It is always going to be hard for them because they will never have the finances of the really big clubs. If they are having a bad time they can go and spend 20m on a player but Southampton cannot do that.

"But they are a tough side to beat and we struggled to beat them - and so did Manchester United by all accounts.

"It has been a tough week for us with the game in Europe on Wednesday and I'm sure Saints came here thinking they could take all three points. They gave us a mountain to climb but we responded well.

"It was always going to be hard for us after the midweek euphoria and for the first 20 minutes we could not find each other with a pass but once we equalised we were the only team that was going to win it."

They Said

Strachan said:

" This game can be simplified - if we had had Alan Shearer we would have won. They had him and they won - that's it. It was a fantastic performance, a world-class display and we could not handle it. If he had been on our side and given that performance we would have won.

"He makes everyone play better. Every aspect of his game was good. If any young player wants to learn how to play centre-forward they should get a video of this game and study him."

"We had a good start and had two or three chances to make it 2-0 but we did not take them so in that sense we have only ourselves to blame.

"We played better at Liverpool and Man Utd than we did here and while people say we have not got the rub of the green I am a believer in ability and that was shown today."

Goalkeeper Anti Niemi spoke:

"I did catch him
(Shearer) but I am not sure if I got my fingers to the ball first. It was 50-50, sometimes they are given, sometimes they are not.

"I don't panic - I am pretty laid-back. But when I heard the whistle I thought he might have given a penalty. Luckily for me he did not.

"Alan Shearer was certainly not play-acting though. You could tell from his reaction he thought he deserved a penalty. And what a player he still is by the way!

"I have hardly ever seen better at holding the ball up. He is good in the air and very strong. He is a great player."

"That is the big difference from Scottish football. There you can make the occasional mistake and not get punished but the quality of strikers in the Premiership means they will take advantage.

"This was probably our poorest performance for a while. We started well and had a few chances to make it 2-0 and if we had done that then we might well have won because that would have been a pretty comfortable lead and we are pretty solid at the back.

"But after the first half hour we gave the ball away too easily. It was like we were afraid to keep it and in the second half we looked happy to be in our own half and take what came.

"We have done a lot better than that in recent weeks and set ourselves standards but the results have not been great in recent weeks - and next we are up against Arsenal, probably the best team in the league!"

Match Stats

Six times we've played Champions League Group games this season and six times we've won the following Premiership match - a tremendous record and testament to the ability and commitment of the side. Add the qualifying games to this and it becomes seven wins and one draw, the memorable Liverpool fight back preventing a perfect return.

In 1997/98 we didn't do quite so well, but a return of four wins, three draws and a defeat is still better than many other Premiership sides have managed.

A belated birthday present to himself of a third Premiership goal for Aaron Hughes.

The Northern Ireland defender has popped up with one or two goals, including the first Premiership one of the Robson era, getting the 8-0 demolition of Sheffield Wednesday underway at the Gallowgate end with a header.

He also opened the scoring in a victory at Goodison that same 1999/00 season and secured a cup double on the road in 2001/02. Two similar headed efforts firstly secured victory over 1860 Munich in the Olympic Stadium and then sealed the win over Peterborough in the FA Cup.

Shearer still looking for that 100th Premiership strike for the toon.

Club statistics claim this was our 800th top-level league home victory, and our 1,400th win in all competitions as Newcastle United.

Stats v Southampton (home and away) P77, W29, D17, L31 F113 A106

Last 10 v Saints at SJP:

2002/03: Won 2-1 Ameobi, Hughes
Won 3-1 Shearer 2, Robert
Drew 1-1 Gallacher
Won 5-0 Ferguson 2, Solano, Dryden og, Dabizas
Won 4-0 Shearer 2, Marshall og, Ketsbaia
Won 2-1 Barnes 2
Lost 0-1 No scorer
1995/96: Won 1-0 Lee 
Won 5-1 Watson 2, Cole 2, Lee
Lost 1-2 Cole


The appearance of any team managed by Gordon Strachan at St.James' Park normally yields a rich harvest of pitch-side antics, not to mention the odd nugget in the press conference.

Often mocked for his belligerent stance when interviewed, Strachan is at least likely to be brutally honest about his own side, as well as consistently appalled by the contribution of the match officials.

Maybe it's that combination of shortness, red haired-ness and scottish-ness that makes the ginger whinger into some sort of footballing Ronnie Corbett, with a dash of chic Murray thrown in. At least he's funnier than sourpuss Souness.

Today however Strachan took his text from the gospel of Shearer, preferring to join Sir Bobby in cranking out admiring comments about the former Saint and current Magpie inspiration. Presumably taking that line was preferable to another diatribe about officialdom helping the bigger club, or a moan about the awayday shortcomings of his own side.

While Shearer was involved throughout the game and obviously hungry for the goal that would complete a toon league century of strikes, for wee Gordon to claim he was the difference between the two sides is to undervalue the contribution of the rest of those clad in black and white.

Despite the fact his St.Mary's Stadium assailant was missing from the visiting line up, Dyer in particular seemed to have something to prove and set about his work with something approaching relish.

After making the opener for Shola with a neat run and centre, he embarked upon a number of his trademark surges into the opposition box in the second half, something not seen often enough in recent months. Happily the lad completed ninety minutes without looking in any discomfort and was a deserved recipient of the man of the match trinket.

Dyer's directness seemed to dovetail well with Viana, who buzzed around in various parts of the field, not just his allocated left side berth. While that showcased some of his talents, it did mean though that we didn't have a great deal of width on either flank, Solano being confined to a benchside seat all afternoon.

Speed and Jenas again teamed up in midfield, with the elder statesman again earning his money as the young pretender showed some frustration at a succession of poor passes, but kept battling on regardless.

Meanwhile at the back Given had little to do after disconsolately hoofing the ball out of his own net in the opening minutes, and both Caldwell and O'Brien had their moments, the latter hitting a series of long-range passes that his colleagues didn't always anticipate quickly enough to profit from.

However, while everything eventually turned out alright on the afternoon, it again took an opposition goal to focus the minds of both team and crowd. It's tempting to say that both groups shrugged off this setback, content in the knowledge that coming from behind is our forte, but the animated manner of the Newcastle manager in the early stages betrayed
his unhappiness with the situation.

Speaking of Bobby, he certainly seems to be recovering from his fall, given the animated nature performance from the touchline throughout the  afternoon. A full repertoire of head pointing and traffic directing was capped by a prize fighter-like twin-fist-raised salute at the final whistle. 

He even managed to outdo Strachan in the trespassing stakes - advancing a full three yards onto the field to instruct Dyer at one stage. Wee Gordon by contrast got no further than sticking his toes outside the technical area before vexing the fourth official and being shooed away.

The equaliser brought the crowd to life and Shearer then tried to follow up the earning of a free kick with what looked like a valid penalty claim. However referee Wilkes didn't agree and was ultimately forced to book our protesting captain, partially because he was standing so close that the ref couldn't see the continuing play.

That's four bookings for Shearer this season - as many as in the whole of last season, and in the main for strenuous appealing. It's of course part of his game and a major source of irritation to his detractors. That and kicking people in the face of course. 

However, as we've previously discussed within these pages, his influence on the referee in the Kiev home game arguably got us the all-important penalty - as much for the seeds of doubt placed earlier than for the actual offence. Lose one part of his game and others suffer.

After the break we carried on attacking the Saints, and what proved to be the winner duly arrived via the unlikely source of Aaron Hughes' right boot. A further effort by Dyer and a Shearer header cleared off the line would have sealed the victory, but we then seemed to collectively expire at that point, with around 10 minutes remaining.

Finally the exertions of recent weeks seemed to be catching up with us, and as the ball kept getting cleared only to return back into our half of the field, there was genuine concern that we'd end the game as we started, conceding a goal.

However, fortune smiled on us in the form of one or two shots that went over rather than wide, a crucial slip or two from Saints players, and a blatant handball from a toon player that went unpunished but saw Strachan in full jack-in-the-box mode. Had Southampton had a magician like they once did we might have been punished in eye-catching style, but the gap in their armoury  left by Le Tissier is a large and unfilled one.

Eventually the familiar figure of Shearer taking the ball all the way down the right flank to the corner flag signalled that we'd ridden out the minor storm, and the referee duly blew for time. 

As has often been the case in this fixture, we ultimately had too much for the Saints to do anything other than march away without any points.

However, although the period either side of the break showed flashes of our attacking style, the slack start and gasping finish are best forgotten. A great result.


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Page last updated 16 November, 2012