1st August, 2000, 7.30pm. The match actually kicked off five minutes late,
due to what the PA announcer proudly called "crowd congestion."
Venue: Shielfield Park,
No programme was issued.
Crowd: 2015 - good
turnout of toon fans - the new away kit is obviously proving very popular.
The inevitable solitary attention-seeking mackem turned up, but seemed to be
the object of pity rather than GBH. Middlesbrough backroom boy Colin Suggett
was spotted in the crowd - target unknown.
BRFC (Sky blue shirts, navy blue shorts):
O'Connor, Whelan (Oliver 66 mins), Ramsay, Ritchie, McNicholl, Walters,
Rafferty, Anthony (Harvey 76 mins), Laidlaw (Wood 71mins), Worrall,
Smith. Subs n/u: Duthie, Weir, Forrest, Findlay.
10 mins. A slow opening by both
sides, with the first real chance falling to the energetic Ketsbaia, who
shot wide of the goal from 20 yards. 15 mins. Coppinger now in on the act, bringing a save from
former Doncaster goalkeeper Gary O'Connor. 16 mins. United stepped up a gear, and intelligent running from
McClen brought him to the left edge of the Berwick box. He looked, and
curled a looping shot that looked destined for the far right corner of the
goal, but dropped just wide. 17 mins An inevitable United opener, as Ketsbaia accelerated past
Ritchie on the left byline, before cutting the ball back to Ameobi. The
lanky young forward had a simple finish, knocking the ball home from 12
yards. 1-0. 22 mins A rare sighting of Brady on the ball, as he too attempted to
chip the 'keeper after beating a defender, but also slightly overhit his
effort. 25 mins McClen found space in front of the home backline and played
a short pass to Ketsbaia, who had time to step inside a defender and finish
strongly with a rising 20 yard shot. 2-0. 41 mins. The goal of the game, actually precipitated by a Marcelino
foul on the edge of the United area. From the flighted free kick, Hamilton
gathered the ball and found an advancing Coppinger. His smart flick released
the onrushing Ketsbaia, who ran from his own half and bore down on goal with
two defenders shadowing him. As the 'keeper came off his line, the Georgian
side-stepped him and shot home into the empty net with a low drive that
actually took a final touch from defender McNicholl. 3-0. 45 mins - Almost a fourth for United, with Coppinger turning inside
the box and hitting his shot against a post.
Half Time Berwick 0 NUFC 3
46 mins. The second period began in
a similar fashion to the end of the first one, this time Brady striking the
post with a first time shot, after Charvet had motored down the right flank
and delivered a good cross. 55 mins. Rangers defender Ramsay blocked a goalbound Ketsbaia rocket
with his chin, but didn't seem to be any more than slightly dazed. The move
had again begun down the right with both Charvet and McClen taking advantage
of the wide open spaces. 56 mins. Unprecedented activity from Marcelino, as first of all he
won the ball in a tackle, then successfully headed clear a cross. Several
members of the crowd were seen to be visibly taken aback by this
unexpected development. 61 mins. Almost a memorable goal from former Celtic striker Marc
Anthony, as he tried an ambitious lob from just inside the Newcastle half.
However, 'keeper Grindlay managed to back-pedal sufficiently to claim the
ball. 67 mins. Disgracefully inept decision from the linesman, as he
adjudged Coppinger offside as he tapped the ball home from three yards, even
though Ameobi's unselfish pass had clearly been played backwards. 70 mins. Another decent shot from Brady, who cut in from the left
wing and tested the 'keeper from the edge of the penalty area. 71 mins. A goal back for the home side, as Grindlay in the visitors
goal was guilty of a lack of concentration. He received the ball and began
to dribble across his area, only for newly-arrived sub Gary Wood to nip in
and steer the ball into the unguarded goal. 3-1.
82 mins. Newcastle attempted to regain their three-goal advantage, with
a rasping 25 yard attempt from Charvet that the home keeper watched whistle
narrowly over his crossbar, only for a corner to be mystifyingly
awarded. 83 mins. A slight scare for United, as Coppinger tumbled over
clutching an ankle after a strong challenge from Ramsay. However, he seemed to be
OK, as he was to subsequently prove... 87 mins. Berwick threatened to snatch an unlikely draw, after
confusion in the United area allowed local lad Darren Smith to knock home a
12 yard shot at the second attempt for Berwick, a couple of defenders having
failed to deal adequately with a harmless-looking cross. 3-2. 88 mins. Normal service was resumed from an outswinging Ketsbaia
corner, when Marcelino directed a free header towards goal, and Coppinger
was on hand to swivel and volley home from close range. 4-2. 91 mins. Just time for a fifth, as Ketsbaia broke into the Rangers
half and played in Coppinger, who directed his effort under the 'keeper to
seal the victory - his seventh goal and United's 19th in four pre-season
Final score: Berwick 2 NUFC 5
Bordering on the
Riviera in Berwick
Another second-string goal fest for Tommy
Craig's boys, on a simply beautiful August evening. While the toon
contributed fully to an entertaining evening during which Berwick struggled
at times to even touch the ball, local fans were keen to point out Berwick
were missing six first team regulars.
Of those called upon for Newcastle,
Ketsbaia gave his usual wholehearted performance, and may yet stick around
for the new season, especially given the departures of Maric and Robinson
and continued rumours surrounding the fate of Big Dunc.
Stuart Green added thirty minutes of
reserve team action to his nine minutes of senior activity the previous
evening at Burnley, and along with the rest of the midfield reveled in the
space that Rangers afforded them. McClen and Beharall noticeably performed
well and displayed some crisp passing - however from past experience,
competitive games find them with less time to dwell on the ball, and their
performances tend to suffer accordingly.
Turning to James Coppinger, the pre-season
has seen him in good goalscoring form, even without his former Darlo
sidekick Robinson alongside him. It's too early to say whether his spell at
Hartlepool last season has done him good, and neither Ameobi or McMahon are
the easiest players to form any sort of partnership with, but our reserve
games this season should be worth watching to monitor his progress against a
better class of defender.
PS - Top marks to the PA man,
who ran through the lineups three or four times, made the odd witty quip and
had an uncharacteristically trendy selection of tunes - Macey Gray, Wilco