45+1 mins Shola Ameobi beat
Westwood after turning Leon Barnett with surprising ease and finding a gap
between 'keeper and post. 1-0
Half time: City 0 NUFC 1
82 mins Marlon Harewood was sent away down the left and
he waited for the overlapping Jose Enrique who delivered a perfect ball across for
Nile Ranger to sidefoot home from close range and open his United account. 2-0
City boss Chris Coleman commented:
"Sometimes failure is experience and education.
"We have no-one to blame but ourselves for the position which we find
ourselves in, but runs like this can make you stronger as a unit and
that's what I believe will happen to us.
"We thought we had turned a corner when we played well and drew with QPR
and Crystal Palace, but we shot ourselves in the foot badly at Scunthorpe
"We were always going to be up against it against Newcastle this week, but
the lads gave everything and we were unlucky to be beaten by the best team
in the division.
"We will turn it around sooner rather than later. We have too much quality
in the squad to keep struggling."
Since seeing Ian Stewart grab a last minute winner back in August 1985 (and
then walking all night until 6am trying to find a boat - it's a long story....)
I've lost count of the number of times I've been to Coventry and Highfield Road
or the Ricoh Arena.
I've also lost count of the number of victories I've seen here. Whether it be
Rambo Reilly, Paul Gascoigne, Mirandinha, John Hendrie, Steve Watson, Alan
Shearer, Kevin Gallacher or Michael Owen grabbing the goals, the trip away from
Coventry has mostly been a happy one - thankfully I wasn't in the country
when we suffered the 4-1 thrashing in the white away shirt.
I even managed to talk my way out of a speeding ticket when John Hendrie's
winner had fooled us into thinking we might stay up, so this is definitely a
lucky ground for me. And so it proved again this time round.
Did we deserve the win? Possibly but only because the opposition were
desperately poor. Chris Coleman should be worried if his lads "gave
everything" and turned in a display as woeful as this....
It certainly wasn't one of our better displays but I'll certainly not tire of
trotting out the 'winning ugly' cliché if we are still 12 points clear of a
playoff spot after the next 20 games.
To beat Watford with ten men and then repeat the scoreline after this
disjointed display doesn't say much about the quality in this division but our goals were two rare moments of
class on an evening where both sides
struggled to find any fluency, with too many passes going astray and long balls
rarely finding their target.
Shola turned and fired home in first half added time to give us the lead and
some solid defending and excellent goalkeeping saw us hold that lead until
substitute Nile Ranger forced home a Jose Enrique cross near the end.
United were only on level terms thanks to Steve Harper and the woodwork when
Leon Best's fierce shot was superbly touched onto the bar by the 'keeper and
Michael McIndoe headed against the angle seconds later.
Ameobi's opener came in the first minute of added time when he beat 'keeper
Keiren Westwood after turning Leon Barnett with surprising ease. There was a
split second of incredulity that the ball had actually gone in before the
celebrations started, with Shola showing few signs of such skill up to that
Barnett was lucky to still be on the pitch after a blatant pull on Peter
Lovenkrands as he scampered onto a loose ball but incredibly both linesman and
referee failed to see anything untoward. The quiet Dane protested long and hard
in the minutes that followed, suggesting that Barnett was guilty.
After the break United were penned back in their own half for much of the first
20 minutes and only some more smart stops from Harper and dogged defensive work
from Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini kept us in front.
Ranger seemed a certain scorer not long after he and Marlon Harewood had
replaced Lovenkrands and Ameobi but with the goal gaping some last ditch
defending somehow denied him as he seemed to have an open goal at the far post.
However, with eight minutes remaining Harewood was sent away down the left and
he waited for the overlapping Enrique who delivered a perfect ball across for
Ranger to sidefoot home from close range and open his United account.
United held firm to claim another clean sheet - our 12th of the campaign - and
extend our gap at the top of the league as midweek results again went in our
My worries about the strength of our squad remain, but in picking the team on
the way to the ground we actually realised that we are fairly strong in most
areas, apart from at full back. We certainly have a first eleven more than
capable of gaining promotion but a bad spate of injuries in our back four could
still derail this train.
Surely it wouldn't be Ashley's greatest ever gamble to find a few quid to fund
some cover for our back four in January but anything's possible with this
You can't help feeling things are suspiciously quiet at the
moment and even Andy Carroll's misdemeanours that saw him absent from the squad - don't seem to have attracted the attention that
room spats at Stoke and QPR have.
Enjoy it while it lasts....