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This Season 
 Match Report 2000-01 - Blackburn Rovers (h) 
 Premier Reserve League - North
Date: Mon 12th Feb 2001, 7.00pm

Venue: Kingston Park 

Conditions: Clear and calm, temperature dropped alarmingly late in the game


Newcastle United 2 - 3 Blackburn Rovers


23mins. Interplay between Cordone and Green on the United right eventually saw the ball arrive at the feet of LuaLua, heading away from the Rovers goal towards the left. In an unprecedented development, he passed the ball almost immediately, infield to where a waiting Brian Kerr cracked a fine shot into the bottom right hand corner of the Rovers net  1-0

27 mins. More good work from LuaLua, as his sharp reactions allowed him to latch on to an attempted backpass from Douglas, round keeper Kelly and fire the ball into an empty net from point blank range. 2-0

Half time: Newcastle 2 Blackburn 0 

53mins. Green was harshly penalised for a raised foot in a central position outside the United penalty area, and with the defensive wall looking more than the requisite 10 yards back, Kenna stepped up to reduce the arrears with a with placed free kick from 20 yards. 2-1

61 mins. United tried to break forward through Green on the right side of midfield, but his long ball to Cordone was cut out and Johnson stepped forward from his own half with the ball. Although tracked back by McClen, he was allowed to continue before striking from distance past Karelse 2-2

75 mins. Rovers took advantage of a static United defence to score what became the winner, when Johnson found space on the Blackburn right to drop a cross towards the front of the Newcastle six yard area. Richards reacted first to rifle the ball home, leaving the startled Karelse and Gary Caldwell in his wake 2-3

Full time: Newcastle 2 Blackburn 3 

We Said

 Coach Tommy Craig said

"'We're having a torrid time at home, we were impressive for 45 minutes and well on top of the game, then the referee brought them back into the game, it was a strange decision. We then lost the initiative and they then got another goal. From then it was anybody's game and they got a scrappy third goal.

We had a few half chances at the end but never really looked liked getting another goal. That's now twice we've let a two goal lead slip at home.''

Match Highlights

9 mins The first meaningful contribution from LuaLua was a typical run that beat three defenders before he made a mess of his shot and screwed it high and wide of the Rovers goal.

20 mins United score (see above.)

23 mins With the Rovers defence looking less than solid, Cordone sent a free kick whistling narrowly past an upright.

27 mins United score (see above.)

30 mins
A biting tackle from Kerr won the ball off Kenna in the centre of the field, and he set off for goal before dragging his shot high to the right of Kelly's goal, having studiously ignored Cordone infield, pleading for the ball.

38 mins Gillespie, who had spent most of the half in an anonymous central midfield role, found himself down by the Rovers corner flag on the United left, and tangled with Bernard. United's young Frenchman seemed to striker the former Magpie in the face, but no action was taken by the referee and Gillespie didn't react.

41 mins
A well-judged run from Johnson down the Newcastle right saw him flight a dangerous-looking centre over to Broomes, who headed what looked a reasonable chance over the bar.

48 mins Jamie McClen and Green combined for the latter to cut back inside a defender and shoot on goal. The goalkeeper half-stopped the effort, but in the absence of toon attackers was able to clutch the ball at the second attempt.

50 mins Almost an embarassment for Karelse, who came to his near post to collect a cross from O'Brien on the left, but allowed the ball through his hands to bounce on his chest. Fortunately no Blackburn player was close enough to profit, and the 'keeper reclaimed the ball.

53 mins Rovers score (see above)

57 mins Another melee featuring Gillespie, who felt the benefit of attention from both LuaLua and Bernard after another failed United attack. The referee conveniently had his back turned during this brief spot of martial arts.

58 mins Cordone made progress towards the visitors goal before trying a shot that was deflected for a corner. Again however, the incoming cross was weak and easily dealt with by a defender.

61 mins Rovers equalise (see above)

64 mins
After an evil-looking lunge into back of LuaLua, Marlon Broomes was spoken to by the referee, but failed to receive the second yellow card that the challenge certainly merited.    

75 mins Rovers score (see above)

83 mins Increasingly frantic efforts to score from United led a scramble in the Rovers box, Caldwell's effort being blocked by what looked like an arm, and Cordone hammering the rebound well over the bar. Appeals for a penalty were ignored by the referee.

85 mins
A rare LuaLua header flashed hopelessly wide of the goal, from a cross by Cordone, now playing out on the left wing to accomodate substitute Coppinger in a central role.

87 mins Newcastle fashioned one more meaningful opportunity to level, but the seemingly goalbound shot of Cordone was hoofed clear by O'Brien before it got near the empty Rovers goal.


Quick report - we were cruising at 2-0 when half time came, Rovers seized the initiative thereafter and we were unable to rouse ourselves.

Waffle -
Three toon games for the boy Biffa in as many days, and the reserves managed to put the tin lid on things by completing the triumvirate of defeats started by the under 17's and continued by the seniors. Ill-fortune or symptomatic of a club-wide malaise?

To be honest I don't know. All three of the games saw United go down to teams who didn't seem to be world beaters, but ended up with victories achieved through honest toil, aided by defensive lapses from the respective toon backlines.

Resisting the temptation for knee-jerk reactions of the tabloid nature ("Crisis At United" etc.) there are a couple of common threads running through all three games that may have at least some significance:

1. Of the eight goals conceded over the weekend, 5 came from crosses into the box that weren't adequately dealt with by the defence. Discounting the other three, that were decent enough strikes from distance, there certainly seems to be a vulnerability in the sides to balls from the flanks.

2. In all three games, our strikers struggled with the physical aspect of their game when confronted with more substantially built defenders.

Two observations then, but possibly one problem highlighted by both.

Assuming that a comparatively small percentage of their week is taken up by playing against bona fide opponents, the rest of it consists of drills and practice against club colleagues. Now that Ferguson and Robinson are history, McMahon is away at Darlo and Shearer/Cort are sidelined, the most significant physical forward presence is Shola Ameobi. He has made his mark on the senior side, but a lad who until recently seemed to be closing his eyes when heading the ball is no Peter Withe or Les Ferdinand.

Elsewhere we have the waif-like Offiong & Chopra in the Academy, the similarly diminutive Coppinger and McMenamin in the stiffs and the vertically challenged LuaLua and Gallacher in the big lads, with emergency forward Dyer hardly tipping the scales. Add the Ladyboyish tendencies of Cordone and there isn't an awful lot for the Newcastle stoppers to have to overcome when they defend corners and crosses on the practice field.

Come Saturday (or Sunday/Monday) and suddenly the strength and mobility of youngsters like Gary Twigg of Derby allow them to profit from good crosses that the toon lads are used to winning almost unopposed during the week. For Twigg read Bartlett in the senior side.

While the likes of Chopra and Coppinger make up for their lack of inches in their ball control, vision and all-round play, they are in danger of following in the footsteps of similarly diminutive but crafty goalscorers from the juniors like Ian Milbourne (now Gateshead) and Paul Brayson (Cardiff.)

It's great to see our teams all trying to play intelligent and progressive football (and succeeding in recent weeks more than once - i.e. Leeds home and away in the Premiership), there is a danger that we can become too prosaic in our buildup play, failing to beat sides of inferior technical ability, but superior stature.

Nobody wants to see a return to the "glory days" of big Billy Whitehurst, but sometimes a bit of brute force and and old-fashioned intimidation is needed among the muck and bullets. Managers and coaches can instill good habits, build confidence and improve skills, but they cannot physically make players bigger or transplant "heart" into them. The raw materials have to be there in the first place.       


Page last updated 14 July, 2016