| If the Kids are United
Part 24- Appeared in the Mag, October 2003
After an opening day loss at Reading, Southampton made the long journey to Tyneside and claimed the points with a 2-1 success on a day when the blustery conditions and the Saints seemed to have overcome the home side.
However it was a question of third time lucky for Brian Eastick's side when they secured a memorable 4-1 win away to Manchester City, despite the presence of Kasper Schmeichel, son of you-know-who between the sticks for the home side.
Striker Guy Bates set Newcastle on their way from the penalty spot, with midfielder Ben Webster adding a crucial second on the stroke of half time. And by the time City got in on the scoring act through Murphy, United had wrapped up the points through goals from Chris Farman and another from Bates.
And the winning run continued in Newcastle for the next three Saturdays with successive 2-1 wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City, the latter in the Potteries at the home of Newcastle Town FC.
The Owls were beaten thanks to first half efforts from locally-born forward Carl Finnigan and Northern Ireland youth international midfielder Daryl Smylie, while Ben Webster again notched a goal in the dying seconds of the first half.
A disputed penalty allowed Stoke to draw level, only for the referee to square things up by pointing to the spot when Matty Pattison tumbled over. Guy Bates duly converted to secure the win.
Seven days later and The Magpies were back at the real Newcastle, entertaining visitors Wolves, who played their part in an eventful encounter.
The Wanderers arrived at United's Benton Academy base behind schedule, which saw the kickoff delayed. However the Magpies wasted no time in getting on the scoresheet, with Guy Bates winning and converting a 5th minute penalty after being fouled by Michael Towsend.
Better was to come in the 11th minute, as striker Bates turned provider, slipping the ball through for Matty Pattison to elude the keeper and convert with a low angled effort.
At this stage Wolves had shown little and seemed to be suffering from the effects of their early start from the black country. That changed though on 27 minutes, when Kevin O'Connor blasted home a fine 20 yarder.
And within two minutes there was agony for Newcastle defender David Edgar inexplicably headed a Wolves cross from the right past his stranded goalkeeper Smith. Unfortunately for David, his father Eddie was among the spectators at pitchside, our former 'keeper on a visit to his native Tyneside from Canada.
Having got back to parity at 2-2, Wolves promptly gifted the home side a third goal before the break. There seemed little danger as Ben Webster made progress down the right flank on 39 minutes, but his swerving right foot cross was met at the near post by goalkeeper Carl Ikeme....who promptly carried the ball into the net.
Hasty discussion on the touchline from those watching saw a verdict that Webster's shot wouldn't have gone in and therefore the 'keeper was credited with the OG.
After two OGs and a spot kick in the opening 45, the second period was rather less incident-packed with neither 'keeper seriously tested until the 75th minute.
At that point, Wolves took the lead from the penalty spot, the referee penalising Chris Farman for handball and Gary Mulligan sending Ben Smith the wrong way for 3-3.
And the visitors almost took the lead three minutes later when Nathan Talbot worked an opening in the area but blasted his shot on to the United crossbar, from where the ball bounced away to safety.
At this point Wolves were in the asendancy and looking for a winner, but it was United who struck again with five minutes remaining, courtesy of the referee.
A mazy forward run from Webster took him away from three defenders and towards the box and when Pattison took the ball on, he toppled over after minimal contact from Michael Townsend.
A penalty kick was the outcome and Bates stepped up to smash the ball home for his second spot kick conversion of the day and a sixth goal of the season in as many games.
So a narrow victory for Brian Eastick's side, but deserved for no other reason than the moaning, niggly attitude of the visitors that the referee seemed reluctant to punish by means of yellow cards.
Our unbeaten run was scheduled to be put to the test
on the morning of our Premiership game with Southampton, with a trip down the
road for the first Tyne-Wear derby of the campaign, on enemy territory. The
equivalent fixture last April ended in a 1-0 win for the home side when we
made our bow at their new academy site.
For Calvin Zola and Adam Collin, Saturday morning will
see them en route to London Road, Peterborough along with the rest of their
temporary Oldham team mates, assuming Newcastle allow the Latics to extend
their one-month loan deals.
Add to that the currently-injured Marc Walton and in-form Guy Bates from the Academy (who have both featured for the reserves) and itís clear that not everyone will be accommodated at St.Jamesí Park.