25th March 2002, 7pm
in rain, which for once cleared. Not as windy as usual = less hats
and small children blowing around the arena.
24 mins Restored to his familiar striking role,
Michael Chopra got the first of his three when LuaLua played in Wayne Quinn down the left, his low
cross finding Chops who knocked the ball home with ease past on-trial
Darlington keeper Grainger 1-0
25 mins A minute later the lead was
doubled with LuaLua breaking free down the left. Having reached the byline
he wriggled into the box to deliver a perfect cross for Mark Boyd
to fire in from close range 2-0
32 mins United went further ahead just after the half hour with
a mirror image of the first, this time down the right flank. David Cowan
found LuaLua who jinked round a defender before rolling the ball to Chopra
who shot in low off the left post. This would have been the youngster's
hat-trick had he not dragged a 27th minute shot wide after LuaLua had
again played him in 3-0
45 mins Cruel
luck on City trialist Terry Bowker, who turned the ball into his
own net on the stroke of half-time. Another LuaLua run down the right
did the damage and when he slipped over a low cross from the byline, the
defender from Unibond outfit Bamber Bridge had nowhere to go. 4-0
Half time: Newcastle Reserves 4 Bradford City 0
81 mins Chopra got his third
and became the first toon player to notch a hat trick on this ground since
Silvio Maric, bundling the ball past the keeper after his initial shot had
been blocked as he ran through one-on-one on to an Orr through ball. 5-0
Full time: Newcastle Reserves 5 Bradford City 0
Tommy Craig commented:
"Chopra got three goals which showed a
striker's instinct. He's proved he's got goals in him once again.
"The two words
I would like to use about that performance are attitude and application. I
can't speak highly enough of their attitude to the game.
"I've got to
say Marcelino was an example to everybody. Steve Caldwell, David Cowan and
Marcelino were the basis from which the win came.
"I don't like
talking about titles but we've got a good chance. Without being blase we
now expect to win each game we play. We've struck a rich vein of form and
hopefully that will continue."
Michael Chopra got his first reserve
hat-trick as United went three points clear at the top of the Premiership
Reserve League (North). After a fairly even opening 20 minutes, we scored twice in a minute to set up a comfortable victory over a poor
Bradford second string at Kingston Park.
On a night when Bradford posed little
attacking threat after a couple of early chances, United's defence had an
easier night than usual, with Marcelino again showing some good touches
and Steve Caldwell never in trouble against a side he played for earlier
in the season.
Wayne Quinn also benefited from the increased freedom to gallop forward
down the left whenever possible, swapping roles with Bernard whiler on the
opposite flank, David Cowan turned in an efficient display in his
more accustomed position at right-back, after being forced to play at
centre half earlier in the season.
There was no place for Elliott after his appearance last week - he now
looks set for an imminent first team recall as Distin reverts to centre
half. Griffin was also missing, having picked up a leg injury in
The returning Stuart Green had a quiet game on the right flank, a
disappointment after his rave reviews while away on loan in the centre of
the Carlisle midfield. What we achieve by playing a midfielder we've just
released (Boyd) in the centre and sticking out a retained one on the wing
is beyond my comprehension...
Lualua had one of his "on" nights, when he decided that passing
the ball was a viable option, and with the enthusiastic forward running of
Chopra providing a nice contrast to the almost grudgeful meanderings of
usual strike partner Ameobi, goals came in abundance. It's also worth
remembering that our opponents lie one off the bottom of the league and
fielded three trialists, including Sestanovich from Eircom league side
Sestanovich didn't have much of a game but was in good company there,
former pin up idol of Old Trafford Lee Sharpe going through the motions
before being subbed by Bantams reserve boss Mark Prudhoe (who stood on the
touchline looking unnervingly like Jimmy Nail.)
Surprise onlooker was Laurent Robert, who
we presume was picking up some handy pointers from the galloping
left-sided Cornish wing wizard, Wayne Quinn....