New Year, same old United. After a crackers week, even by our own standards, we were very fortunate to scrape a point against relegation bound Burnley in an afternoon which laid our lack of resources and coaching ability bare for all to see. Riviere came into the side for the suspended Cisse and again, we started the game brightly with the first quarter of the game being comfortably our best.
In what was a very open game, both sides looked all over the place defensively and we drew first blood on quarter of an hour when Steven Taylor rose to head home a corner. There was no repeat of his Forrest Gump run around the pitch this time but whilst Taylor himself had a reasonable game before succumbing to a serious injury in the second half, the rest of the defence displayed a level of intelligence that Gump himself would have been ashamed of.
The first howler gifted them an equaliser when an aimless punt upfield found Paul Dummett inside our area and his attempt to cushion the ball back to the hapless Alnwick saw it loop over the keeper into the back of the net. A true comedy own goal but there was nothing to laugh about in the performance of our back five, with Burnley sensing that there were gaffes just waiting to happen and taking the game to us accordingly. Another rick from the unbelievably terrible Tiote, whose elephantine touch and horrific range of passing was consistent throughout his dreadful afternoon on the pitch, gifted the ball to Ings and he played in Barnes who was unlucky to see his shot come back off the post.
By 20 minutes, Burnley had already had to make two subs and we got ourselves back in front shortly before the half hour with the best goal of the game. Colback took a pass from Janmaat just outside the box and steadied himself before firing a rocket past their keeper into the bottom corner. Again, he was one of the only players in the game to emerge with any sort of credit and when sub Long was also stretchered off shortly afterwards, leaving Burnley with no more subs we looked to be getting hold of the game. We should have gone further ahead shortly before the break when Sissoko teed Riviere up straight in front of the goal but rather than unleash his shot, he only succeeded in trapping the ball and fluffing the opportunity. The lad is never, ever a goalscorer.
If we marginally had the better of the first half, the second half was embarrassingly one-sided and it wasn’t us in the ascendancy. They should have levelled just after the break when Ings curled an effort that had Alnwick beaten all ends up but when that came back off the bar, Barnes looked a certainty to score from the rebound but saw his header also come back off the post – a real let off. The warning wasn’t heeded though and remarkably, the woodwork saved us again, this time from a header by (Bertie) Mee with our defence fast asleep. They did get a deserved equaliser though when Ings got up to head a cross almost in slow motion into the bottom corner with Alnwick scrambling across his goalline to no avail.
By this point, the injured Taylor had been replaced by Williamson and we’d decided to bring five foot Adam Armstrong up to pump long balls to in place of Riviere, with Haidara surprisingly brought on for the permanently ineffective Gouffran. There looked to be only one winner at this stage but against the run of play, the best player on the pitch again, Ayoze Perez created a chance from virtually nothing. Some tricky footwork from the Spaniard led to him pulling back a cross which found it’s way to Sissoko at the back post to gleefully slot into an open net. Perez was the only class act on the pitch all afternoon. Sissoko tried his best to drive the team forward but that was mainly brawn than brain, but the touch and movement of Perez was again way beyond anything else in our team and his quality stands out like a sore thumb at the moment.
It looked like we were going to pinch all three points, but fittingly they found a third equaliser from another blooper at the back. Yet more piss poor defending gifted Boyd the ball at the angle of the box and although he struck the ball well, a competent keeper would have dealt with it fairly comfortably. Unfortunately, Jak Alnwick is not a competent keeper and the effort squirted through his hands into the far corner. With almost ten minutes still to go including stoppages, you feared that any shot on target from them was going to result in a winner but in the end, we were grateful to take a point from the game when infact we’d deserved nowt.
For me, the only step back we could possibly have taken in replacing Pardew was to have any of his witless coaching team in charge, so I hope and pray that Carver’s presence is a very temporary one. I have nothing but contempt for the man and the only silver lining to this comedy of errors was that it shuts his fucking cakehole with his crack about having ‘a 100% record as a manager’. Apart from at Leeds. Or Toronto. Both of which he was shite at.
I’ve little doubt that Saturday will see the end of our participation in the cups and I’ve little doubt that Ashley is confident that we are already safe this season. He’s probably right but it won’t be comfortable. Another year older, another year more inane.
Keep the Faith
Newcastle United – Alnwick 2, Janmaat 5, Coloccini 2, S Taylor 6 (Williamson 5), Dummett 3, Sissoko 7, Colback 7, Tiote 1, Gouffran 3 (Haidara 4), Riviere 5, PEREZ 8
Ref – Dean – 8 – Didn’t get anything wrong from what I recall
Our Fans – 5 – Flat. Surprising that, eh?
Their Fans – 9 – Comfortably the best we’ve had at SJP this season – good luck to them
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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