Saturday 15th April 2006, 3.00pm
Venue: St. James' Park
Conditions: Hazy sunshine
A soft free kick award in a central position outside our area gave Jimmy Bullard
the chance to leave Shay Given flat-footed with a well-executed free kick. No
reference was made to the dubious award in post-match TV analysis. 0-1
28 mins A cross from Charles N'Zogbia saw Michael Chopra
bundled over at the far post and Rennie reluctantly point to the spot after
what seemed an age - the Milburn side linesman leaving him in no doubt with
his flag across the chest signal.
Alan Shearer stepped up to place it to the
keeper's right. Much reference was made to the allegedly dubious nature of
the award in post-match TV analysis. 1-1
36 mins Nolberto's Solano corner from the Milburn/Gallowgate
corner was headed home by the unmarked Titus Bramble.
Half time: Newcastle 2 Wigan 1
Kieron Dyer brought the ball forward before making an untracked run near the
right side touchline. Chopra however opted to ignore him in favour of
playing in Alan Shearer, who bore down on goal and round Filan (who got
a finger on the ball) before pulling the trigger and celebrating in
front of the North East corner.
Full time: Newcastle 3 Wigan 1
first time we have come back, apparently, from a goal down for
a long, long time, so we have broken that run and should gain
confidence from that. And Wigan havenít been beaten away from
home for a long time also.
"They are yet another team to come
to St Jamesí Park and go away empty-handed. They have been
terrific, Wigan, this year and a difficult team to beat, but
we gave them a goal start and beat them, and beat them well.
two issues here: to get the next three points and let the
league table take care of itself. If West Ham keep winning, we
canít get into that seventh place. Having said that, there are
four games to go, thereís plenty of football to be played and
we are only a point behind them.
"We will take one game at a
time, three points - please God - at a time and we will see
where we end up. But if we were to finish seventh in the
table, from where we were at the beginning of February, that
would be a hell of an achievement by the players."
Paul Jewell said:
"We were going to
change it just before they scored because I felt it was just
getting a little bit open and we needed to try to tighten up,
but before we got the chance, they got the penalty.
"After that, they were always going to be chasing the game. They
had a foothold in the game and Shearer just had too much for our
makeshift centre-half pairing.
"Whatever you say about him, his legs might not be what they
were, but he knows the game."
Shearer's two goals were the first time he'd been on the
scoresheet more than once in a game, since his double at home to Dubnica
in the Intertoto Cup.
And one has to go back to April 2004 for his last two-goal haul
in the Premiership, coming during a 4-2 home success over Everton.
After losing a valid goal to a myopic linesman at the JJB, Shearer's first strike against the Latics reduced the number of
current Premiership sides he's netted against for us down to one.
A strike on April 29th at St.Andrews against Birmingham City will give
him a full set.
However there were still six sides that got away in past seasons:
Norwich City, Oldham Athletic, QPR, Swindon Town, Watford and
Sheffield United (whom he did score against in the FA Cup).
Al's penalty on Saturday meant that we netted our first ever
goal against Wigan in the league and the first in any competition
since Ivor Broadis in the FA Cup tie back in January 1954.
Titus Bramble netted the fifth goal of his Newcastle
career, of which three came in the UEFA Cup campaign of 2003/04 (Breda
and Mallorca at home, Basel away).
His only other Premiership goal came at home to Southampton in January
2005 - and all four of his goals on Tyneside have come at the
Bramble netting was also significant, his effort being the first
in a competitive match by a United defender this season.
The last defender to net for us was Celestine Babayaro at home to
Coventry in the FA Cup in January 2005 - and the last Premiership goal
was Bramble's against the Saints as mentioned above.
And another feather in the caretaker manager's cap came on
Saturday, as we came from being behind to take three points from a
Premiership game for the first time since Sir Bobby Robson was in the
Replies from Ameobi and Shearer to an early Joe Cole effort were
enough to beat Chelsea 2-1 on Tyneside in April 2004 - a
feat we'd never repeated until Saturday.
The loss before
Christmas of that Tyneside institution known as the Football Pink was
inevitable, given the scant regard the publishers had for the heritage of their
title - running it down before slaughtering it in the name of commerce.
However, had the paper still been in production, this would have been one of
their more balanced blow-by-blow match reports, given that so much of the action
took place in the opening 45 and there was little of note in the last twenty
minutes to stuff into the last paragraph.
By that time we'd recovered from a double injury setback (triple if you count
Friday's loss of Emre) and from being a goal behind. Wigan had suffered even
more in terms of personnel, all three replacements on the field before the
interval and at least one other player hobbling noticeably.
Like Nobby and Al though there was to be no respite and a full ninety minute
shift was the order of the day - short of one final party trick from Uriah the
clown handing the latter an early bath.
For Michael Chopra though, time stood still as he found himself once again
unable to break his Premiership scoring duck - this being his 17th
unsuccessful attempt a month short of three years since his debut at West Brom.
A block tackle from close range denied him this time, but he couldn't be faulted
for effort and did did have the satisfaction though of supplying the through
ball for Alan Shearer to get forward and notch a rare goal (for him) from open
play. Perhaps Monday will be kinder to Chops.
Rare too had been a goal from Newcastle's backline, Bramble becoming the first
United defender since....Bramble in 2004 to convert in a Premiership game for
the black and whites.
But surely Titus or any of his defensive colleagues (except perhaps Monsieur 50p
heid) would have profited from the early N'Zogbia centre that left Ameobi three
yards out to head into an open goal - only to fluff the chance. Now do you
believe me when I say he closes his eyes for headers?
The striker soon had other things on his mind though as he followed Bowyer off
the field for an unexpected visit to the dentist. At that point and with Dyer
having earlier spurned a good chance before we went behind, one couldn't help
wondering whether this was destined not to be our day.
When a pattern of play did belatedly emerge after the frequent disruptions
though, it was Roeder's side who continued their recent run of form with
glimpses of the fluidity that unsettled Spurs and Boro.
The visitors by contrast reverted to recent type - this being the fourth game in
a row that they've taken the lead but failed to claim the three points.
Shearer duly collected the sponsor's man of the match award, but a measure of
how positive this display left the rank and file feeling could be gauged by the
post-match pub conversation in which plausible cases were advanced for the
trinket to have been carried away by Bramble, Moore, Solano and N'Zogbia.
For the young Frenchman in particular some recognition would have been fitting
after another display full of promise - surely an U21 cap or two is on the
agenda? By no means the finished article, he does however have a spark that
worries opponents (Wigan had to foul him to stop him today) and delights
supporters (there's an audible murmur of anticipation when he gets the ball).
All this from a lad who isn't a natural wide player.
On a one-off basis this was an enjoyable and incident-laden afternoon for the
crowd, with two more for the Shearer total and another Owen-less victory to
celebrate - in stark contrast to the football famine we suffered a year ago - no
paper aeroplanes today.
But for the revenge factor in at least preventing Wigan from registering a trio
of successes against us this season there was tangible satisfaction in a
professional job well done - plus at least a semblance of optimism about
European qualification in some form next season.
If nothing else it makes the end of the season interesting - ruling out any
scurrilous thoughts of going easy on Birmingham to try and keep the Butt sale
alive and ensuring that the final day visit of Chelsea isn't a re-run of the
bloodless encounter of twelve months ago. Shearer deserves that.
While others fuss and punt about the next messiah to be appointed, we're
thankfully just getting on with trying to play football effectively - using
whatever eleven players we're able to field.
Some of those will have gone by the time Wigan come here next season (at least
one could be a Latic), but today none of the squad who featured let their
manager down - and 50,000 folks got a little more payback for what they endured
earlier in the season.
And now to some
more unfinished business - where are those coffin nails?