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This Season 
 Match Report 2001-02 - Ipswich (h) 
 Premiership

A Deep Fill Ploughman's. Deep into injury time the furrowed brows of the Tractor Boys disappeared....
(click on food for details)

Date: Sat 16th March 2002, 3.00pm.

Venue: St. James' Park 

Conditions:  
Mainly overcast, although there was a bit of blue sky overhead. Chilly tho' but.

  

Newcastle United 2 - 2 Ipswich
Teams
 

Goals

Half time: Newcastle 0 Ipswich 0

50 mins Most observers in the ground thought Bent was offside when he scampered through. The TV replays showed he may have been level but before cameras captured every move in Premiership games this was one that could quite easily have been written up as "a couple of yards offside". Do we credit the linesman with a fantastic hairline decision? The rest of his performance suggests not... Bent's cool finish through Given's legs looked deliberate. 0-1

60 mins A brilliant inch-perfect free kick from Robert at the Gallowgate end. The distance from goal looked promising as did the dodgy positioning of the goalkeeper.
Shearer's dummy run over the ball may have just taken Sereni's concentration away, but the quality of the strike would have beaten most keepers. 1-1

63 mins Bobby was urging Kieron Dyer to get his kit off when this one went in so any post-match opinions he had of his central defenders' role were derived from the telly. Dabizas' header wasn't great and the under-pressure O'Brien rekindled memories of Steve Howey stumbling over the ball as Bent nipped in to finish well again. 1-2

88 mins Robert's cross fell perfectly for Shearer who powered in to head into the top corner via the bar. 2-2

Full time: Newcastle 2 Ipswich 2

We Said

Uncle Bobby said: 

"We had the chances to win but didn’t take them and I was very disappointed with their second goal. The ball went over Dabizas and hit Andy O’Brien’s legs and went straight in to the path of Marcus Bent. It was a mistake, not a created goal.

“But Ipswich had their opportunities as well and I don’t begrudge them a point. They got their passing game going, fought very hard for 90 minutes and had patches of play when they were on top.

“They also scored two goals here and not many teams have done that this season.

“Everyone knows how I feel about the club and although they have a tough run-in, I hope they do enough to stay up


"The second goal comes from a mistake when the ball goes over Nikos Dabizas' head and ricochets off Andy's legs. Bent is all alone with the goalkeeper and puts it through his legs.

"In fact he scored both goals through Shay's legs. It is amazing how many times that happens. I'm going to try to buy a keeper with three legs!"

"You would put your mortgage on Alan scoring the penalty. It was a strange game for Alan and for us. He was unfortunate when the referee judges he has pushed the centre-half, that was a tight decision, he was just stronger.

"And the referee has disallowed a second goal when he has had a slight push on the defender, and then he has missed a penalty. He could easily have had four goals."

On the subs:

"I needed to bring Kieron Dyer on and Jermaine Jenas was the one who had to go off as we needed a dog to play alongside Dyer, and Clarence Acuna is that dog. Lomana did very well when he came on, he played the ball in which won the penalty."

On the unwell O'Brien:

"I told him to slug it out because we needed changes up front."

Alan Shearer faced the press and said:

"I might have slipped, but it was a garbage penalty, the worst I have ever hit.

"I have taken penalties in World Cups, European games and in the Premiership so I was not fazed in the slightest.

"I can understand the second one being disallowed but for the life of me not the first one. It is a contact sport and we have just come together. If the defender is allowing the ball to run out for a goal-kick then it wouldn't have been a foul but because a forward has done it to a defender then it is a foul.

"But there is no use complaining. We can't blame anyone else, we did not do enough to win the game. We didn't play very well and we defended poorly as a side and as a back four.

"When we defend as we did then we don't deserve to win, although we certainly had the chance to win at the end but it was a rubbish pen."

"We have thrown a couple of points away. With all respect to Ipswich we should beat teams like them, especially at St James'.

"It is alright to say we twice came back from a goal deficit but we should not have allowed ourselves to get into that position in the first place."

On Champs league qualification:

"It is in our hands. We have nothing to be frightened of. We have Kieron Dyer back, Gary Speed coming back and Craig Bellamy not far away so it is up to us to win our last eight games."

They Said

A relieved George Burley commented:  

"I thought Acuna had slipped, there is a monitor behind us and he looked to have slipped over, but sometimes the crowd puts the referee under pressure and he gave it.

"If there was one player you would choose in the whole of the Premiership you would want to take a penalty in that situation it would be Alan Shearer. But maybe it was justice that we didn't lose.

"We were disappointed to not to get all three points as we were leading with just a few minutes to go. I was pleased with the way we came here and matched Newcastle

"It was a cracking game but it would have been unjust if we had lost. I thought we did well, we scored a couple of good goals but Newcastle are always dangerous.

"With two or three minutes to go and us leading 2-1 it was disappointing not to go on and get all three points, but then with the penalty we almost didn't get any."

"We do have a hard programme but we have to go into every match and show the same commitment as we did today and then we will stay in the Premiership.

"We are not in the bottom three, and although we have tough games to come, we have games where we can pick up three points in as well.

"The way we played against Newcastle will give us a lot of confidence and we are determined to go into every game from now until the end of the season and keep our nerve and belief."

"I'm pleased for Marcus Bent, he worked hard and deserved his two goals."

Match Stats

Marcus Bent certainly enjoys playing at St.James' Park - his second appearance at the ground this season for Ipswich saw him score goals two and three, all at the Leazes end of the ground. He's been our joint most prolific opponent this season, along with Liverpool's Danny Murphy, exceeding the two goals scored by Van Nistelrooy and Scholes.

Assuming Ipswich avoid relegation, then Alan Shearer certainly has a lop-sided record to rectify at Portman Road next season. He's hit 5 goals against Ipswich in their last three visits to Tyneside, but is still to get off the mark in Suffolk.

100 Premiership games for uncle Bobby was reached today, but sadly we couldn't find the necessary goals to make it win number 46.

86 goals in all competitions this season for Newcastle, and Shearer has now claimed 20 of them - the 4th season out of 6 that he's done this for United. For completeness he managed 4 out of 4 at Blackburn and 1 out of 5 at the Dell Boys.

Marrying the two stats up then, in Bobby's century of Premiership games, Shearer has scored 43 times.

Waffle

Was the act of Alan Shearer pushing his penalty wide of the post the defining moment when our Championship challenge finally faded? 

Well, those tuning in to see how Arsenal fared at Villa Park were told it was. Bobby Robson's face disappeared from their Mount Rushmore graphic leaving just three to fight it out for the title. SKY obviously think they are directing The Premiership - the movie and when you see Liverpool, Arsenal and Man United's kick-off times over the coming months it's clear that they are. I wonder whether we might get a reprieve now Bobby's face has slipped away and three o'clock kick-offs on a Saturday, like this game, might become the norm. As if....

And what if we win our game in hand and Liverpool lose at Spurs, say, and we collect another three points? We'd be level with the Scousers again which would surely see Bobby reinstated on the graphic, accompanied by calls for him to bypass a Knighthood and go straight for Saint Bob, sponsored by SKY (and Rodney Marsh), of course. Some Lazarus/phoenix image would also keep SKY's graphics department in their state of permanent frenzy.

The look on Alan's face as he left the pitch suggested he blamed himself for the draw and even the loss of the title. And despite the temptation to blame a green-shirted Yorkshireman for denying Shearer two other goals, that, like the TV interpretation would be utter nonsense. Anyone watching us at The Valley, Craven Cottage, Filbert Street or Upton Park witnessed the demise of any trophy-waving, in the league at least.

Football is a strange game but if this current side, with or without Bellamy, had gone on (or goes on - let's not be completely seduced by the SKY hype...) to lift the Premiership trophy when the class of '96 faltered, it would have been a story too unbelievable. To take on the might of the top three red-shirted sides and give them a run for their money is enough for a Hollywood blockbuster. If we can stay ahead of Chelsea and Leeds to join Europe's elite then that is also a story worth telling.

What we saw on Saturday at St. James' was closer to the true Newcastle than the fairy stories we were served up over Christmas. At times we are a fantastic side with attacking flair and some fine individual talent but in truth a couple of injuries - and this has not been a bad season for injuries - can expose our squad's frailties.

Yes, we are a better side than Ipswich but the arrogance that swept through the ground once Robert's superb free-kick had equalised Marcus Bent's opener was very Old Traffordish. Imagine the impudence of the Tractor Boys going and scoring another one then. The indignation around the stadium was tangible, even more so when thousands of our fans walked out with five minutes remaining. 

Bobby had contributed to the disillusionment with a number of baffling substitutions - did he still think he was Ipswich manager? - but with Dyer zipping around and Solano causing all sorts of problems we always had a chance of victory. Even when LuaLua and Ameobi came on, our momentum was forward and a goal or even two never looked beyond us. It's a shame there aren't turnstiles on the way out because those departing who then lingered once Shearer had scored wouldn't have deserved to see us win. In fact, for them alone the penalty miss saw justice done.

It had been a frustrating game for us. The first half was a struggle from the moment we allowed Ipswich to take the initiative - a good start as Keegan always knew is vital for us at St. James'. Bobby also knows that, of course, but his players didn't seem quite as keen to go for the 'jooglar' from the very first whistle. We escaped one or two scares to then carve out some openings of our own. Cort chested down a long ball and was unlucky to find the keeper with the shot that followed. He seemed, to me at least, starting to get somewhere near match sharpness and a couple more games might see him there.

Shearer had thumped a stunning shot at Sereni after a nice interchange with Robert and he then had his first disallowed effort. Was it a foul? It looked more so from my seat than it did on the telly and as soon as the player wearing blue hit the ground the keeper, the crowd and Shearer knew the whistle would follow.

But not long after the break the visitors took the lead. Those howling at the linesman seemed to have a case but the TV re-runs showed that Bent was at worst level. Dabizas was warned not to berate the linesman but did it anyway and got one of the most ridiculous bookings of the season - even by Craig Bellamy's high standards. 

The foul by Venus on Solano was a gift for Robert and he gratefully accepted. From my seat the keeper looked flat-footed but the closeness of Robert's shot to the post meant Sereni was somewhat irrelevant. But back came Ipswich, to their great credit and although a long punt was messed up by our centre-halves Bent took his chance well. To blame O'Brien would be harsh, Dabizas should have headed it to the side, rather than flicking it through the middle like a good centre-forward. Once it caught under O'Brien's feet he was always struggling.

Shearer's second disallowed goal was another that seemed more clear-cut at pitchside. His slight push on defenders to knock them off balance has been rumbled and Riley spotted it straight away, despite Makin making it absolutely clear by crumpling in a heap.

Jenas made way for Dyer - Bobby's explanation going some way to confirming it was tactical, not based on the excellent form of the youngster. Ameobi replacing Cort was also no surprise but LuaLua for Solano killed any atmosphere dead. The ground fell silent as people wondered whether Bobby had lost it. Shearer's header restored the faith as Robert's second perfect cross (the one for Dabizas's earlier miss was stunning) found a determined Al muscling his way to head in off the bar.

Acuņa, who had been unconvincing all afternoon managed to hoodwink Riley into the injury-time drama. Shearer didn't look his usual steely self but to miss the target completely was a shock even for him. He looked totally stunned as a ball-boy tried to give him his bottle of Lucozade Sport.

After a few moments of incredulity the silence was broken by shouts of "Shearer" which must have been nice for Al to hear, even if he was inconsolable.

Drifting away from the ground had a strange feel to it. Yes, we'd blown a great chance to stay on the coat-tails of the "big three" but we had come from behind twice. Something this side has been excellent at doing this season. That we should have needed two equalisers is a moot point but we don't have any God-given right to beat teams like Ipswich, who aren't in the Premiership due to a clerical oversight.
 
As always if we could have traded the penalty miss for one lashed into the top corner at about 1.53pm this Saturday then I'm sure we would. But of course, that couldn't possibly happen, could it....??

Niall MacKenzie

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