Yet another frustrating night watching Newcastle United was just about saved from being an utter calamity thanks to two of our most derided players. The journey to the game hardly mustered any enthusiasm despite the more than helpful locals allowing people to seemingly park anywhere they like and on a caravan park for £3. Once we were there that lack of enthusiasm spread across the more travel weary Mags with lusty verses of ‘get out of our club’ being aired regularly, although a lot of those singing that were resplendent in our new kit with Wonga splashed across the front. The obligatory smoke bomb was also present and actually let off in a toilet this time! Let me repeat we were drinking in a caravan park and someone let a smoke bomb off in a toilet. Sometimes following Newcastle United is more surreal than The Trip*
Onto the game and it was clear from first sighting of the teams that they were far bigger physically and were only going to try and play one game. They were overly aggressive in the tackle and should have had a player sent off in the first 5 minutes when an over the top challenge was only deemed worthy of a yellow card. Most of the half was played inside our half with only Curtis Good looking composed and comfortable in possession and able to read the game. Yanga-Mbwia was bewilderingly bad; he mis-timed headers, played people onside and gave none of the assurance and leadership you want from a captain in a game like this. He lumped aimless balls forward repeatedly, although the options were limited. I have to say though picking him as captain in a game like this was another Pardew masterstroke but then again what were the options?
The home side forced a few good chances in the first half and we were thankful to Eliot in goal for a number of good saves and for Dan Gosling’s combination of chest, foot and hand for two goal-line clearances. The second of those clearances looked behind the line from where I was stood and it also looked like a definite handball. Strangely enough none of their players protested a huge amount which made me think I was wrong but seeing it again at half-time I thought he hadn’t handled it, amazingly really, and it wasn’t in. We barely mustered anything going forward with only Sammy Amoebi doing anything resembling attacking. He had one shot blocked that seemed goal bound and made a number of runs beyond their full back with a header over from Gosling and a missed opportunity to make anything tangible for both Vuckic and Gouffran being the best of these forays. We were lucky to go in at half time level as only their lack of real quality stopped us being about 3 down.
The start of the second half saw Shola replacing the completely ineffectual Vuckic who once again doesn’t look cut out for the sort of football that dominates this team at the minute; lumping the ball forward and expecting him to make something out of nothing. Once Shola came on their team of thugs and bullies weren’t as effective and to be honest he started holding the ball up but gave his detractors a stick to beat him with when he was put through and finished with a wild shot over the bar. The chances were starting to come as the home team had blown their load a bit in the first half and Marveaux had the next effort when he ballooned an attempted control volley out of the ground.
Things were getting extremely fractious in the away end and arguments were beginning to break out when Ben Arfa was introduced for the frankly awful Gouffran. He immediately picked the ball and tried to at least play some football and awaken our powder puff attack. One decent pass into Shola brought us our first goal when the limping advertisement for Stannah Stairlift turned and shot into the bottom corner via a deflection. That eased the pressure somewhat and Morecambe’s attempts to get back into the game weren’t really troubling us before Ben Arfa played the ball out to Sammy who jinked his way into the box and finished the game off.
Make no mistake we were lucky to get through this game and barring some good goalkeeping (some halfwit still said he was shite in the game) and some diligent defending from Gosling we could have been out of it at half time. Never has a Newcastle United goal been so poorly celebrated as by some last night, utterly fed up with the incompetence on the field tactically, off the field commercially, and progressively in the transfer market but also in preparation for any future we may hope to have. Positives out of the game were the composure shown by Good, Sammy found his level and we didn’t get beaten. Oh we do love to be by the seaside.
Newcastle United: Rob Elliot, Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Curtis Good, Paul Dummett, Gael Bigirimana, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux (Moussa Sissoko 88), Haris Vuckic (Shola Ameobi 46), Sammy Ameobi, Yoan Gouffran (Hatem Ben Arfa 71).
Unused Subs: Davide Santon, Vurnon Anita, Jak Alnwick, Remi Streete