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Season 2016-17
Birmingham City (a)

In association 


Saturday 18th March 2017, 3.00pm

 St. Andrew's

Conditions: Uninspired

Admission: 25


Birmingham City

Newcastle United

0 - 0




Half time: Blues 0 Magpies 0

Full time: Blues 0 Magpies 0

We Said


Rafa said:

"People may expect us to win every away game but this was a valuable away point.

"It is important to learn how to manage games and we are in a better position after every match.

"We maintained a high tempo as we were aware of how Birmingham could play in these circumstances.

"There are still eight matches to be played and as Huddersfield lost we are now in a better position than we were before the game.

"We have seen this kind of performance several times
(this season). We did well with all the problems we have at the moment.

"We had control of the game and we had some good chances. We also scored what I thought was a good goal.

"We didn't take our chances as their goalkeeper made several fine saves to keep Birmingham in the game.

(Shelvey) had a high fever yesterday, and the doctor told me this morning he wasn't too sure whether he could start.

"I decided it would be better to try to manage the game with fresher legs and players who had trained. 

"Then with him it was a case of maybe trying to change something by playing him in the last 15 minutes.

"I think we showed we could manage the intensity of the game and keep a high tempo. We were passing the ball well, although the pitch was not the best. 

"The idea was to try and control things because we knew how they would play. It's not a case of needing to create 20 chances in the space of 10 minutes, because you cannot do that. 

"We had the number of chances we were looking for - it's just a pity that the goal was disallowed and their keeper made the difference."

They Said

Blues boss Gianfranco Zola said:


"The commitment and desire not to give anything away was top class. I was pleased with the performance and at the present moment this is what is required.

"Considering the value of the Newcastle team we created a couple of good chances. They could obviously have scored as they are a good team and are going to win promotion.

"At the moment we need to be defensively organised and difficult to beat. We need wins to give results and tranquillity to everyone. Once this is achieved we can move to the next step.

"Considering our situation and the value of the opposition it was a good result.

"Personally, I am under pressure but this result is encouraging to build on what is a very small platform. We need to carry on and make it bigger.

"At moment the players are comfortable playing in our new game plan which is to make it difficult for us to be beaten."


20 away games so far this season have brought Rafa's side thirteen victories, four draws and three defeats - in other words, 42 points from a possible 60

A trio of away games - at Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town and Cardiff City - now remain for Newcastle to record what would be club record fourteenth away league win in one season.

United recorded consecutive 0-0 away draws for the first time since scoreless Premier League visits to Chelsea and the smoggies during November 2008.

Newcastle's unbeaten run at St. Andrews now extends to nine games in all competitions since a 1-2 loss in a League Cup tie back in November 2000. 

One has to go back to City's 3-0 win in September 1977 to find the last time they registered maximum points against us on their own ground in the league. 

Since then there have been ten meetings here - ending in six draws and four away victories. 

The Blues remain winless against us in eleven home and away league meetings since their 1-0 victory in the Premier League at Gallowgate in August 2003.

In terms of losing anywhere to City in any competition, that's not happened since their 5-1 FA Cup success on Tyneside in January 2007. Eight games have harvested five Newcastle wins and three draws.

Toon @ St. Andrews - last ten:

2016/17 drew 0-0
2016/17 drew 1-1 Murphy (FA)
2010/11 won 2-0 Lovenkrands, Best
2007/08 drew 1-1 Owen
2006/07 drew 2-2 Taylor, Dyer (FA)
2005/06 drew 0-0
2004/05 drew 2-2 Jenas, Butt
2003/04 drew 1-1 Speed
2002/03 won 2-0 Solano, Ameobi
2000/01 lost 1-2 Dyer (LC)

NUFC in the Championship after 38 games:

2009/10 80 points (W23, D11, L4) F72 A28 +44 1st
2016/17 78 points (W24, D6, L8) F70 A32 +38 1st





Having drawn 1-1 in a forgettable FA Cup tie there in January, Saturday's league visit to St. Andrew's was similarly unremarkable, both sides lacking inspiration. 

However, defeats for Brighton and Huddersfield meant that United went into the international break having extended their lead at the top of the table to one point over the Seagulls and seven over the third-placed Terriers (who have a game in hand over both sides above them).

This game proved to be as drab and dreary as the weather, the main talking point the decision to deny Newcastle what seemed like a valid goal five minutes before the interval.

A brief period of pressure ended with Matt Ritchie bundling the ball home in front of the away end - only for the linesman on the Garrison Lane side of the ground to belatedly flag for an offside. 

Under pressure from visiting players, the referee consulted with his colleague before confirming that the goal wouldn't stand - although TV replays revealed Ritchie was behind both the ball and Ayoze Perez, bundling the Spaniard's effort over the goal line from close range. 

With the unwell Jonjo Shelvey joining Dwight Gayle on the bench, Daryl Murphy began up front supported by Perez with Yoan Gouffran on the left and Mo Diame in the centre of midfield.

It was a formation that failed badly though, Diame particularly rotten and lacking a first touch on what was a poor playing surface. Only Ritchie offered a threat from midfield, while Perez was more involved than usual but had little to show for his efforts. 

There was a rare start for Grant Hanley, replacing the injured Ciaran Clark, while Vurnon Anita continued at right back and Jesus Gamez remained benched. Also unused was Aleksandar Mitrovic, who now hasn't featured in any of our last five fixtures. 

The defence enjoyed a trouble-free afternoon, Karl Darlow equal to anything that reached him and City content to waste time despite a lowly league placing that means relegation is still possible. 

Gayle, Shelvey and Christian Atsu all appeared in the closing half hour as Newcastle went in search of a goal, but the nearest they came was a Ritchie shot turned away by 'keeper Tomasz Kuszczak.

Notwithstanding a handful of international postings, a two week break before hostilities recommence is for once well-timed, allowing time to regroup and refocus before the final eight scheduled games of the season. 

Just three of those are on the road and although it's our away form that has been the foundation of United's promotion push, the opportunity of posting some convincing home victories presents itself.

The break in games may also see a lengthening injury list reduce, with the welcome possibility that Isaac Hayden could be back in harness when we return to action. 

If nothing else today we maintained some forward momentum, although in cricketing parlance we're switched from chasing our target with boundaries to getting there in singles. 

Next up are successive visits from teams in the bottom four of the table. Banishing our unwelcome trait of squandering that situation* would put us in sight of the finishing line - regardless of scorelines involving our rivals. Charity doesn't begin at home.

* We've failed to collect maximum points from back to back home games four times so far this season - and an unbelievable 13 times since last doing so in 2013. 

Biffa/Niall MacKenzie

Page last updated 15 June, 2017