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Season 2012-13
Reading (a) Premier League

In association 


Saturday 29th September 2012, 3pm

 Madejski Stadium 

Conditions: Sunny and warm 

Admission: £40 
(last visit was £22.50 - April 2010, Championship)




Newcastle United

2 - 2




Half time: Royals 0 Magpies 0

Kebe picked the ball up and ran Perch ragged before scuffing a shot that wrong-footed Harper and rolled inside the left hand post. 0-1

Almost straight from the kick-off, Tiote hit a perfect ball forward for Demba Ba to run onto but instead of controlling it he hit it right-footed on the volley. The ball flew past a helpless McCarthy and into the goal in front of the away fans. 1-1

A cross from the left near the corner flag was nodded across Harper into the far corner by Hunt, James Perch inexplicably going for the ball with his foot rather than challenging Hunt with his head. 1-2

Substitute Shane Ferguson was played in down the left and whipped in a perfect ball for Demba Ba to seemingly head the ball goalward with McCarthy only able to spoon the ball into his side-netting. TV replays later showed Ba's last contact came off his right arm but his post-match comments suggested that it was an accidental contact 2-2

Full time: Royals 2 Magpies

We Said

Alan Pardew said:

“We can’t keep relying on our spirit and a bit of quality to get us these points, we’ve got to find a way of getting some rhythm in our play. Reading did a good job of upsetting that today, they didn’t give us a moment’s peace. They were all over us, as you’d expect.

“That intensity and quality they’ve got will see them all right. They’ve got no worries in this Premier League. There will be some good teams beaten here and we were fortunate we weren’t one of them today.

“Me and my staff are scratching our head. There were so many errors in the game - from Reading too, I thought. There were defensive errors, most of the chances came from mistakes. Sometimes then you’re looking to bring people on to change the rhythm of the game.

“The goal – I think the game was going to be a 1-0 game if Steven
(Taylor) stays on the pitch. That disruption definitely changed the complexion of the game. It became open and there were chances at both end – too many for my liking.

“I’ve seen it again and it definitely hits Demba’s arm. At the time I thought he’d headed it if I’m honest. I didn’t really see a problem until I walked off the pitch and somebody told me it had hit his arm. 

"The ball was a fantastic cross. He put it in an area where things happen. Demba’s got a little touch with his head, then it’s hit his arm, then it’s hit the defender and the goalkeeper has no chance because of the vicinity of the cross.

(Shane) Ferguson has had a good week for us. He changed the game a little bit when he came on. We’ve been solid all season but we’re lacking that artistry and rhythm. 

"We have had disruptions – yesterday losing
(Yohan) Cabaye and (Fabricio) Coloccini was a blow to us. Then Steven today – that’s been our season.

"A fantastic goal from Demba (Ba) - and then a fortunate one - has got us a point but we can't keep relying our spirit and grind; we've got to find a performance level above what we've played today.

"I think Demba just got a touch with his head and then it has hit his arm.
Unfortunately the defender and the goalkeeper have got no chance but if you put a quality ball in like that, you are going to get a reward. 

"It was a bit fortunate but we will take that."

About Ba's first:

"That was the highlight of the day. It was a really great goal. Coming over your shoulder, that sort of timing, trust me that was a fantastic goal.

"It was a strange game in a lot of ways. I thought in the first half we were both searching for a bit of rhythm.

"There was a lot of energy on the pitch and it took a bit of quality away from the game.
The second half was littered with mistakes and errors. We are fortunate to come away with a draw, make no mistake about that.

"We have not played well and will try and address that as best as we can in the in the next game."

Steve Harper - making his 193rd senior appearance for NUFC - said:

"Only our battling spirit got us a point today. Our performance wasn't good enough and the gaffer's certainly let the lads know in no uncertain terms that it wasn't acceptable.

"What we have got here is spirit but when you come away from home you have to earn the right to play and we didn't do that today. The first half was okay. We knew if we were better second half than we were first, we could come away with a win but it wasn't to be.

"We knew they put the ball in the box a lot and to expect a lot of crosses and one or two goals have came from that so it was disappointing in that respect. But if you don't win, don't lose and that could end up being a big point for us.

"That was probably the most I've ever had to do in the air in a game as well - the most crosses I think I've ever had in 20 years! But the pleasing part is obviously not the performance of the team today but just the battling spirit again which will hopefully see us go a long way this season even if performances do need to pick up.

"(Demba Ba is) Phenomenal. The technique for the first goal was absolutely sensational; to hit it first time, a ball like that, on target and to beat the goalkeeper is fantastic.

"And it was a great header on the second one (oh no it wasn't !). That's what happens - he's up there to score goals and he's doing that, and showing what a top striker he is."

They Said

Brian McDermott

"We are obviously disappointed, because we know we should have won the game.

"For me, it is a big error from the referee and the linesman not to see the goal, because it was going away and then he has put his hand out to score.

"So it is really disappointing but, having said that, I thought the performance of the team was excellent. That is the identity of our team, our club and that is what we are about."

"We were hoping to get a result today. We were on the front foot. We were trying everything we could to get a result for our supporters. I thought we deserved to get a result.

"There was a different mentality out there, a different mind-set and that is the mind-set we need to go into with in every game."

Former Magpie Danny Guthrie took to Twitter after failing to face his former team:

"I am trying to fit into the direct style of play the manager wants. I pass too much at the moment, which is my biggest asset. I understand what the manager wants but stopping habits like going and getting the ball from the back four is difficult."



This was our third top-flight visit to the Madejski Stadium and our first point, following a pair of defeats previously.

Magpies @ Royals - all-time:

2012/13 drew 2-2 Ba 2 (PL)
2009/10 won 2-1 Nolan 2 (Ch)
2007/08 lost 1-2 og(Duberry) (PL)
2006/07 lost 0-1 (PL)
1999/00 drew 2-2 Coppinger, Robinson (FR)
1989/90 drew 3-3 McGhee 2, Quinn (FAC)*
1989/90 lost 1-3 Gallacher (LC)*
1956/57 won 3-2 Curry, Eastham, White (FR)*
1953/54 drew 2-2 Milburn, Davies (FR)*

*At Elm Park - all other games at the Madejski Stadium.

All time record v Reading:

  P W D L F A
SJP 3 3 0 0 9 2
MS 4 1 1 2 5 6
League 7 4 1 2 14 8
SJP(FA) 3 3 0 0 10 2
EP 1 0 1 0 3 3
SJP(LC) 1 1 0 0 4 0
EP 1 0 0 1 1 3
Cup 6 4 1 1 18 8
Tot 13 8 2 3 32 16

Gael Bigirimana made a first Premier League start after two previous outings from the bench, while there was a league debut in a Newcastle shirt for James Tavernier.

The 20 year-old had made four senior appearances for United previously, the first coming in the League Cup at Peterborough back in September 2009, while loan spells with Carlisle United, Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons last season saw him play 29 times in League One.

Tavernier became the 174th player to represent us in the Premier League and the English-born one to do so since Sammy Ameobi (Chelsea away, May 2011).

Two more goals for Demba Ba took him on to six in as many Premier League appearances this season. He now has 22 in our colours, moving up one place to 13th in the list of NUFC PL scorers, level with Laurent Robert.

This was Newcastle's 100th draw away from home in the Premier League.

Seasonal comparison - NUFC last five PL seasons after 6 games:

2007/08: 11 points, 5th (scored 9, conceded 5)  
2008/09: 4 points, 19th (scored 5, conceded 11)
2010/11: 7 points, 10th (scored 9, conceded 8)
2011/12: 12 points, 4th (scored 7, conceded 3)
2012/13: 9 points, 9th (scored 8, conceded 8)



In-form forward Demba Ba hit another double to help save Alan Pardew's blushes at one of his former stamping grounds, as Newcastle twice came from behind to leave the Madejski Stadium with a point on Saturday.

Ba's first was a contender for goal of the season as he hit a glorious volley over his shoulder after a fine through ball from Cheick Tiote to instantly equalise Reading's opener.

But a few minutes later United were behind again when some more porous defending allowed the Premier League's bottom side to retake the lead.

It needed another double substitution to get United back into a game they looked like losing and for the second time in four days it was a fantastic cross from Shane Ferguson that unlocked the opposition defence.

Fergie's whipped in ball from the left was inch-perfect but Ba scuffed his header from six yards out and it was bundled into the net by 'keeper Alex McCarthy.

Ba admitted later that the ball had hit his hand after initial contact with his head but protests to the match officials from Reading players fell on deaf ears.

It may have taken over eight years for things to even out but perhaps this was payback for fat Jimmy Floyd's late leveller on Smogside back when Bobby was in charge....

Ba also followed in the hand and footsteps of another famous goalscorer who managed to score a crucial double with both upper and lower limbs, one being a stroke of genius the other being a stroke of a different kind. They both also credited their respective deities for their good fortune.

The four second half goals came from nowhere after a sterile opening period in which Newcastle's passing was little short of abysmal, only Hatem Ben Arfa providing some occasional sparks.

Steve Harper pulled off one stunning save from Pavel Pogrebnyak but that was one of the few attempts by either side on goal as both teams struggled to create any meaningful openings.

Mike Williamson and James Perch produced some timely interventions but the front duo of Ba and Papiss Cisse struggled to make any impact against a side without a clean sheet in six matches so far this season.

That was in part due to a line-up that had Cheick Tiote, Gael Bigirimana and Jonas Gutierrez in holding roles and relied strongly on Hatem Ben Arfa for inspiration. 

Unable to recall Fabricio Coloccini and without Yohan Cabaye due to a dental problem, United were then forced into a reshuffle soon after the break when Steven Taylor came off with a calf strain. He was replaced by James Tavernier, Perch moving from right back to partner Williamson in the middle.

A positive performance from Tavernier in the League Cup exit to Manchester United had prompted his manager to blood him here at Premier League level, while Bigirimana got the nod ahead of him for a debut top-flight start, despite looking to duplicate the midfield role of Tiote. And the haircut.

Both decisions came despite the presence of Vurnon Anita in the squad, who had started in midfield against Norwich the previous weekend but wasn't called upon to do any more than accompany Gabriel Obertan and Sammy Ameobi in warming up on the touchline.

Whether the Dutchman is happy with his low-profile introduction to English football is unclear, but it's feasible that he may be less than 100% fit and that recently becoming a father for the first time has seen him cut some slack while he adjusts to that, as well as life in another country. 

However it's also worth remembering that he's a 23 year-old full international who collected a Dutch League winner's medal last season, at the same time as Tav was turning out in League One and Bigi in a side en route to losing their Championship status, as Reading went the opposite way. Given our shrinking squad though and Anita's versatility, he may not get much more down time.    

Within six minutes, French winger Jimmy Kebe took advantage of United's defensive rejig to beat Harper and give the Hoops the lead with a low effort; the scorer and Perch both losing their footing, which looked to have wrong-footed Harps.

Less than a minute later Ba's "worldy" got United back on terms but Noel Hunt soon took advantage of more slack defending to put the home side back in front.

With Shola Ameobi taking to the field and replacing Cisse the Magpies weren't looking likely to equalise for the second time until Ferguson once more showed his team mates how to cross a ball and Ba benefited, somehow.
That made it six goals in as many Premier League games for Demba who has hit the goalscoring form that eluded him towards the end of last season. His colleague Cisse struggled again though despite his midweek goal, managing only one effort of note that sailed well over.

That could and should have left United with enough time to test the fragile confidence of Brian McDermott's side, but it was Reading who came closest to a winner when Jobi McAnuff rattled the post from distance and their veteran striker Jason Roberts came off the bench to disrupt our backline on several occasions.

Referee Andre Marriner awarded a free-kick late into time added on but Tiote's delivery never threatened to produce a dramatic and probably undeserved winner.

The point was enough to take Newcastle up to ninth while Reading doubled their seasonal tally to climb off the bottom of the table at the expense of QPR.

Former Magpie Danny Guthrie was named among the home substitutes but failed to appear, while central defender Adrian Mariappa had a mixed afternoon against the side he reportedly turned down the chance to join back in January 2012 when a Watford player.

There were mixed feelings on leaving this particular out-of-town/retail park stadium. Pleased once again to have come from behind twice, like at Goodison Park and to have enjoyed some good fortune but disappointed to have looked so unconvincing against a struggling side.

To be without Colo, the two Taylors, Cabaye, Krul and Simpson is an unfortunate array of absentees but we've had worse. However, the team that left the pitch looked worryingly threadbare and having two injured centre-halves suddenly makes our defence look incredibly vulnerable.

A midfield without Cabaye lacks invention and our passing, especially in the first half was worryingly poor. We may have a world class front three but if they aren't backed up by a strong defence and middle of the park then things could start to unravel very quickly, certainly sooner than the eight years that Pardew now has to put his masterplan in place.

Niall MacKenzie

Page last updated 06 July, 2013