in association with
Milner to score first, something
he wasn't far away from doing
6th December 2006, 7.45pm
Venue: St. James' Park
3 - 2
Reading only partially dealt with a Milner-inspired foray and the ball fell to
Solano halfway down the right flank facing the Leazes End. He cracked over a simply stupendous cross
that Sibierski twisted to get on the end of and crack a header home 1-0
37 mins The ball
was played out to the Reading left and both Solano and Taylor hesitated before
the former tried to get to the free man John Oster. The ex-mackem came
inside and pulled the ball back to James Harper who shot low to Given's right
hand and inside the post, via a discernible deflection off Nobby 1-1
42 mins Some brainless defending ended with Babayaro losing possession of a
bouncing ball to Glen Little on the edge of our box down the Reading right. He
saw his shot blocked but the ball wasn't clear and ended up on the edge of our
box where Emre's non-tackle allowed Harper half a yard to steady himself and
curl a right-footed effort beyond Given 1-1
Newcastle 1 Reading 2
57 mins Attempting to get
onto Sibierski's knock on, Martins fell in the box under pressure
from his fellow Nigerian Sonko and Styles had no hesitation in giving the
It initially looked as if Solano would take it, but prolonged negotiations
with Martins ultimately ended with the number nine spotting the ball and the
Peruvian giving him a pep talk before moving away, shaking his head. Happily
Martins shot firmly into the right side of the goal and celebrated
with somersaults in the Strawberry Corner 2-2
(in our nether world of magpie memories, we do recall tonight's half
time hero David Kelly having a right old ding dong with Gavin Peacock in
similar circumstances at the same end of the ground just short of 14 years
ago. Kelly won the argument and netted the pen to seal his hat trick, Gavin
being rewarded for turning the other cheek in the final moments when he
grabbed a goal.)
84 mins Some foraging in the centre circle from Emre saw him
emerge goalwards with the ball, two visiting players backing off him in a
manner that doubtless saw them later chastised by their coaching staff. With
passing options either side of him, the Turk unleashed a fabulous curling
strike that dipped viciously into the net. Cue delirium and massed
scarf waving 2-3
Full time: Newcastle 3 Reading 2
Glenn Roeder commented:
“Massive, absolutely massive.
"I could not be more pleased. He
(Martins) certainly showed he knows how to score a penalty.
"It is only a matter of time before he shows everybody he knows how to
finish in open play.
"He had a goal taken off him against Portsmouth, which we all know now was
a poor decision, and there have been a few incidents recently - he hit the
crossbar at Middlesbrough and again tonight with a tremendous header.
"He has just not quite had the breaks he deserves, but it is starting to
come and if he can pinch some goals in the next few games, that will give him
even more confidence.
"But I am sure the celebration we saw tonight, we will see many more times.
"Babayaro showed immense courage and
bravery to play through that difficult period. I was quite surprised at the
reaction he was getting when he was on the ball early in the second half.
"But typical of our supporters, he kept showing for the ball and playing
well, and it all changed again and they got very much behind him.
"I was unhappy with a member of
Reading's coaching staff making comments at Emre. He came in irate at half-time
and it was only justice he sent them packing with no points. I couldn't really
repeat what was said, but there were comments directed at Emre and he had every
right to be upset.
"We’re above that - we will just move
on. Where other clubs like to make a big fuss of things, we don’t. Iit was
justice that Emre should score the winner and what a goal it was.
"He has given the goalkeeper the eyes, looked one way and then wrapped his
foot around the ball and hit his shot the other way. It was a high quality goal
from a high quality player.
"In a strange way, I suppose that’s
the kind of game our fans enjoy, as long as it comes with that outcome.
"There weren't any raised voices at
half time, we just needed to talk to the players, sort a few things out at set
pieces and give them the confidence to go out there and play in front of 52,000
A slightly dis-chuffed Steve
Coppell said of the penalty:
was a critical incident, and I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions,"
"The dressing-room is full of very disappointed players. It feels such a
"Categorically, they were saying that there was contact with the ball. The
referee was behind the Newcastle player and there’s no way he could see what
happened. It was a guesstimate and that’s not what refereeing is supposed to
"That gave them the impetus then and it was disappointing that the winning
goal came from a misunderstanding from a couple of our lads in the middle of the
"But to be fair to the lad, it was a great run with real purpose and a
"Whether it’s a sign
of the journey we’re making or not, we’re massively disappointed."
Two-goal James Harper commented:
"I've got to apologise to the
lads and the fans.
"They got a pen that wasn't really a
pen, and then I lost it on halfway, Emre put it in the top corner and I have
gone from hero to villain.
"I looked at my phone afterwards and
I've got texts from people talking about my two goals but little do they know
it's my fault we lost.
"There is nothing I can do now but it's
horrible, a killer. The gaffer doesn't like us playing in dangerous areas but I
didn't think it was dangerous on halfway.
"I thought for 20 minutes in the second
half we battered them and it's a sickening blow.
"The lads have been good as gold,
saying I scored to get us back into it, but all the fans have come up here, it's
a horrible journey for them on the coach and to lose like that is not nice.
"Now we've got Watford on Saturday to
put it right. Hopefully I can get the winner and make it up to the fans and the
"The ref was standing next to me, he
gave it and I said 'Rob what's going on?'. The linesman didn't give it, he said,
'No, I gave it'.
"I asked him if he could see and he
said yes, but he was standing next to me and I didn't see it.
"'Sonks' said maybe Martins handballed
before he went over but it's just one of those things. Straight away he gave an
offside against Sibierski because he knew he'd done wrong on the pen.
"It's one of those things and we owe
them one at our place."
We are now 15th in the Premiership table and unbeaten in our last 7
games, having lost just once in our last 11 (all competitions).
1899/00 won 2-1 (FA Cup)
1968/69 won 4-0 (FA Cup)
1989/90 won 4-0 (Lge Cup)
1989/90 won 4-1 (FA Cup)
2006/07 won 3-2 (Premiership)
first home Premiership goal for Obafemi Martins, scored at the
Gallowgate end - just like his pair in the UEFA Cup against Levadia were. This was only his second in eleven Premiership
appearances (West Ham being the other).
We scored three times in a Premiership game for the first time since
the 3-0 beating of West Brom at SJP in April 2006.
And one has to go back to January 2001 to find the last time that three
different non-UK players got on the scoresheet in a Premiership
scoresheet. That was a 3-1 win at Leeds when Acuna (Chilean), Solano
(Peruvian) and Ameobi (Nigerian) all netted.
Siberski has now scored in the last three home games and has six in
all competitions for us from ten starts and five sub appearances.
Compare that to his Man City stats of 15 goals from 74 starts and 33
Into December then and a month on from the
Barrack Road implosion that was the Sheffield United game, things continue to
straighten out in a vaguely pleasing manner.
Scarves have been given out and although the queue for the Physio's room is
bigger than the crowd goggling at Fenwicks window, good cheer and good fortune
seem to have come home to roost.
For parts of this game though it certainly wasn't the season of goodwill to all,
with sections of the SJP crowd apparently under the impression that they'd
turned up to see a pantomime and behaving accordingly. More of that later
With the rare benefit of five full football free days, we began in decent
Milner came close to testing the 'keeper and Martins looked determined to dig
out a goal from somewhere - walking off at the interval having seen one saved,
one just over the bar and one off the woodwork.
By that point though we'd underdone our early good work and once again seemingly
paid the penalty for failing to build on a deserved lead.
Initially reticent, the visitors came into their own for the final 15 minutes of
the first half, scored twice and could have had another couple as they suddenly
cottoned on to the fact our defence was exposed and suffering from a touch of
the Corporal Jones's.
That was partly caused by the performance of Babayaro, who seemed to be
operating in isolation and causing consternation as a consequence among Taylor
and Ramage, who tried to adjust to cover only to find themselves lacking
assistance from further up the field.
While Butt continued in his recent lung-busting way (his standing has never been
higher amongst the fans), N'Zogbia and Emre seemed averse to helping out, idling
upfield with Sibierski and Martins as an emboldened Reading tried to set about
The interval score was obviously of considerable concern, but those who booed Babayaro
for his inactivity before the goal and then gave the whole team the bird as they
trooped off should frankly be ashamed of themselves. Pathetic.
The noticeable abuse of Babayaro continued after the break, but never to the
extent reported in some quarters (there may have been a few feathers on the
pitch, but I'm sure that they weren't accompanied by a vat of boiling tar).
It was vaguely surprising to us that the defender was tempted away from the
treatment table at all, but patently obvious that he wasn't fit.
Had he not turned out though, we would have really been hard up and presumably
resorted to the sulky Zog to fill in at left back. Now if anyone deserved booing
We're not excusing Babayaro's poor showing in the first half, but the evidence of our
eyes shows it took him an hour to shake off his ring-rustiness before making a
vital contribution in the closing stages.
We just don't believe that slack-jawed arseholes in the paddocks shouting at him made
We've been down this road before and as in previous times, we totally fail to
understand what hounding our own players in this sort of hysterical
knee-jerk manner is meant to achieve.
What twisted gratification do people get from forking out to watch this stuff,
then seemingly doing their best to undermine the team they profess to support?
Most of those involved couldn't spell anarchy, let alone be motivated enough to
try and provoke disorder and unsettle the current regime. It's no more than
slack-jawed buffoonery - the malignant tendency.
There's a fine line between a gut reaction and outburst when something goes
wrong and a pre -meditated intention to slag players off, or indeed the whole
Unfortunately we have a faction of "fans" at present who are ready to
switch into the latter mode at the drop of a cross. Strange though that they
become shy bairns when providing encouragement to the team is required - or
staying in their seats until full time.
Like the Bramble thing, we're not 100% sure that there's not a racially
motivated angle to it all, with certain throwbacks taking advantage of the
chance to indulge in some good old-fashioned baiting whenever one of our
non-white players falls below a certain perceived standard.
The atmosphere grew progressively more negative and a third Reading goal at that
point would have doubtless had the "sack the board" faction clearing
their throats and people nipping out to secure a prime spot outside the Milburn
steps to get their mugs on Sky TV.
If anything the Baba abuse actually had a positive effect on the crowd, as those
right thinking onlookers with a sense of proportion and a memory slightly larger
than the average guppy started abusing the booers.
That then led to a counter protest of people actually cheering their own side
on, which thankfully was taken up and within minutes had a right old din echoing
round the place.
Such was the turnaround that we scanned the crowd closely to see if that Vic
Reeves' old assistant Les had appeared and was running through his spirit level
and chives routine (don't worry if this means nothing to you...)
Having never displayed the slightest talent for playing the game, we are only
able to recount to you the two things that people who have worn the shirt tell
There's no better crowd to get a lift from when things aren't going well than
this one. It's a unique feeling and one which stays with you for a
There's no worse crowd to be when things are going badly than this one and they
are on your back. The negativity is contagious and can simply destroy players.
Work it out for yourselves.
Back to the proper action and we got back on level terms thanks to a dubious
penalty award, followed by a Sibierksi effort that was inexplicably ruled out.
Some good positive support in the closing stages though made this an enjoyable
evening and kept the interest levels up right until the end - Reading thankfully
giving Leroy Lita (their cut-price version of Martins) only ten minutes in which
to try and worry our defence.
Emre's goal was a belter and let's face it - long, long overdue, sending
everyone away in good heart and good cheer, the previous misadventures and
recriminations of the evening forgotten about.
We remain in a precarious position, but despite the injury blows we are starting
to get back to the spirited team performances that characterized Roeder's time
in charge last season - and the results are being recorded in a similar fashion.
Nothing earth-shattering, but heading in the right direction.
The rest of our December programme looks like a slog, with it virtually
guaranteed that the wheels are going to come off somewhere when we meet a decent
side on a good day, when we're under strength and under the weather.
It could come at Stamford Bridge, The Reebok or even at St.James' on New Years
Day. One bad result though won't undo the good work of recent weeks and
shouldn't provoke hand-wringing and soul-searching.
To truly appreciate and savour that great winning feeling that was evident
tonight, you do have to put up with some rotten displays. People seem to have
As the spirit, confidence and belief among the squad holds steady in the face of
adversity, it's vital that those qualities don't ebb away from the terraces.
If this team were sinking without trace then we couldn't argue against people
vocally rubbishing them - even though we wouldn't be joining in.
But if there's commitment and effort on display as we are currently seeing, we
fail to accept or understand why that cannot be replicated by those who profess
to "hate sunlun", but often seem to forget that they can show their
affinity for Newcastle at times other than the 90 seconds after we score a
The away travellers among us tend to do the triumph in adversity thing quite
well, it's the moaning magpie minnies closer to home who are the enemy
As someone once said "support the Toon, it's your duty."
Or stop in the house and boo the cat.