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This Season 
 Match Reports 1999-2000 - Arsenal (h)
 
Newcastle United 4
Arsenal 2 

Date: Sunday 14th May 2000 4pm

Venue: St. James' Park

Conditions: Sunny and an atmosphere universally described as "carnival".

Kit: Normal home 

Crowd: 36,450 - despite an away section that had massive gaps behind the big pylon again.

Stats: 

We finished the season as third top Premiership scorers this season, having netted 63 goals. Man U got an almighty 97 and opponents Arsenal a worthy 73. Everton ended on 59, Leeds with 58, Spurs and the mackems with 57 and Leicester with 55.

Teams:

NUFC: Given, Griffin, Howey, Dabizas, Barton, Solano (Maric 86), Dyer, Lee (McClen 89), Speed, Ketsbaia (Gallacher 77), Shearer.

Subs n/u: Perez, Goma. 
Booked: None.
Sent Off: None. 

AFC: Manninger, Luzhny, Keown, Weston (McGovern 67), Cole, Parlour (Silvinho 46), Vernazza, Winterburn, Malz, Kanu (Gray 71), Suker.

Subs n/u: Lukic, Black. 
Booked: 
Suker.

Sent off: None. 

Referee:  Graham Poll

Goals: 
6 mins
Shearer easily won a header in the penalty area and was able to control the ball and hook it over his head for Gary Speed to side-foot firmly past Manninger. 1-0

7 mins
Most people were shuffling their backsides back down after the opening goal when a ball forward seemed certain to provoke a bit of flag-waving. Not so and Kanu ran-on to lob over Given easily. 1-1

23 mins
Usual free-kick specialist, Solano, seemed to accept that Alan Shearer wanted his 300th goal. Al had already wasted an earlier deadball chance but this one was executed with perfection. 

It may have gone through a slightly suspect wall but the ball was still rising as it bulged the top corner. Beckham may be without equal when it comes to swerving and bending a ball but he'll never hit a ball as hard or true than this one. 2-1

53 mins
A bit of a disappointment for Warren Barton. He let Malz steal half a yard on him when there seemed minimal danger. Just as Barton was about to challenge Malz placed a low shot beyond Given to level the score. 2-2

59 mins
Solano swung over a decent corner and Gary Speed showed real determination to get ahead of the Arsenal defence to power a firm header down and over the man guarding the near post. 3-2

63 mins
Game over as a neat build up involving Solano and Ketsbaia played in Andy Griffin who had timed his run to perfection. I swear he looked up for someone to cross to but ended up finishing smartly with the outside of his boot. A nice way to open his NUFC account. 4-2

Waffle: 

Wor Al got the goal he wanted with a belting free-kick to give him his 300th career goal and to bring up 30 in a black and white shirt this season.

It was party time at a relaxed and sunny St. James' as Arsenal warmed up for their UEFA Cup Final. Wenger put out a reasonable looking side (presumably after negotiations with the FA) but it was sufficiently weakened for our lads to close the season in some style.

Gary Speed started the ball rolling with a smart finish after Shearer had won a free header and played it back over his head into the path of our second top scorer. Speed side-footed home smartly.

And then came the equaliser barely a minute later. The giraffe-like Kanu ambled through looking well offside and lobbed Given expertly. Shearer had already skied one free-kick from a good position but when an infringement was penalised ten yards outside the box he grabbed the ball once more. 

Undoubtedly Solano would have tried his luck but as Bobby Robson had predicted after the Derby game, Al wanted his goal in front of the Leazes End where he opened his league account against the now-relegated Wombles.

What followed was top-drawer, Keegan-picking material. Al lashed the ball straight into the top corner, Alex Manninger a mere spectator. All but a tiny corner of St. James' were celebrating before it bulged the net, the moment it left his boot it only had one resting place. Shearer celebrated accordingly. He'd tell you that a penalty or a six-inch toe-poke would have been just as good but he'd be lying. 

The game continued in an open and friendly manner with our top(?!) referee, Poll, beaming his way through the first 45 minutes. I love the way this misguided fool thinks he's the player's best mate. Having said that he's improved since he stopped trying to grab the headlines.

Kieron Dyer buzzed around like the proverbial blue-arsed fly. However, for me he chose and timed his runs badly, although the crazed Ketsbaia must be a nightmare to play behind. Someone needs to bring young Kieron back down to earth but unfortunately that wasn't to be Kevin Keegan, including him in his provisional 22. Hopefully Big Al will act as chaperone as the temptations of the Nether regions offer themselves on their summer holiday

Warren Barton had another cracking game on the unfamiliar left side of defence, so it was a shame that he allowed Malz a yard that he never recovered as a low drive was dispatched past Given.

On the other side was a welcome first start for Andy Griffin. The absence of Aaron Hughes gave Griffin his chance but he grabbed it pretty well (more later). Dyer made a half-hearted attempt to restore our lead, pulling out when he seemed favourite to get a strike on goal. Speed gave him a lesson from the corner, muscling through to plant a header into the turf and up and over the man on the line.

Shay Given then attempted to make the game safe with a Pat Jennings impression that caught Manninger unawares. The Arsenal keeper just tipped the ball wide as pages in history books were about to be rewritten.

Griffin gave Dyer a fine example of an incisive run and as he looked up for someone to square to the absence of a black and white shirt forced him to shoot. He finished superbly with a flick around the advancing keeper to put the game beyond doubt.

At 2-2 the scattering of Gooners had reminded us that we were "only playing reserves" and the UEFA Cup Final lineup will probably confirm that. However, a team with Kanu, Suker, Parlour, Keown and Winterburn is worth beating.

Shearer then appeared to get his 200th league goal when he got a boot onto a ball scrambled forward. Manninger stumbled backwards clutching the ball and the crouching linesman seemed to be the only one at the Gallowgate end of the ground not to see the whole ball cross the line.

As goals three and four sealed our three points the misguided also celebrated the Wearsiders slipping to defeat at White Hart Lane. Personally, a top half finish and the extra 200k was worth more to me than another mackem defeat. Also, the added bonus of any points for the mackems was that they finished even closer to that unattainable UEFA place....

Bobby orchestrated a lap of thanks around the pitch and the boys donned Newcastle Brown T-shirts for the last time as the S&N sponsorship came to an end. It was suitably contrived but the return of "Local Hero" before and after the game was welcomed by many. 

The amble around the pitch was, of course, meaningless with no Cup Final send off or place in Europe to celebrate. However, it was worth it for the mutual respect between Bobby and his people. Shearer and Lee got the chants they deserved, Barton, Speed, Dabizas and others probably didn't and the disgrace aka Perez went surprisingly heckle-free.

So what happens over the summer? Bobby's leading of the applause for Ketsbaia suggests that he could be on his way but he did the same for Lee who had just signed a new contract. The absence of others from the walk round the pitch shouldn't be too meaningful and our lips are sealed over the info that reaches us from those in the know. 

If Bobby is given a bit of cash from NTL and he flogs a few others then he should have a tidy sum to spend more wisely than the Scotsman and Dutch money-wasters.

Niall Mackenzie.

Reports 


Page last updated 14 May, 2012