MATCH REPORT: 23/Jul/13, Estádio da Mata Real. It’s often best not to make a big deal over pre-season run arounds, usually, you’re just looking to see that the team have shape, a pattern of play, are increasing fitness levels, but most of all, that lessons have been learned from the last season and failings addressed, so guess what……….
Well, Sissoko still featured as a wide man and our corner kicks still look like we’ve no idea what we’re meant to be doing.
To be honest, this was far from a “friendly,” it was a niggly affair, full of snidey fouls and bad temper. Whilst our hosts were by and away the biggest culprits of snideyness, with Debuchy provoked by Helder in the first half, a stand out example, we were far from innocent. Tiote, fouled anything that moved, sometimes he tripped opponents up, sometimes he caught them at knee height, sometimes he caught them late, from behind and sometimes he just pushed them over. Steven Taylor managed to concede a free kick in just about every aerial challenge he went for and with both sides testing the referee’s patience, the game was frequently broken up.
The bad temper flared up when after chasing a ball over the top, both Coloccini and Caetano fell to the floor and it appeared Caetano caught our skipper with his foot, Coloccini’s reaction was to throttle the little attacker, which looked mildly amusing at first, however, the referee brandished 2 red cards.
Long before this, United had fallen behind, when an attack filtered its way out to their left winger, he took advantage of the space afforded to him by Debuchy and when he fired in a cross, Yanga-Mbiwa missed his clearance and Caetano fired a low, snap shot past Rob Elliot from 12 yards.
Some of United’s early play had been neat but a lack of fire power had been telling, a neat interchange saw Ben Arfa find Shola Ameobi but his left footed strike rose over the bar. Ben Arfa had wriggled his way clear on the left hand side of the area but his shot flew wide of the post.
At the other end, Debuchy used his left arm to cut out a crossfield ball, right on the edge of the box, but the referee waved play on, although a free kick would have been the correct decision rather than a penalty.
United equalised in the second half, when Gouffran wriggled free on the left hand side and whipped in a low, left footed cross, this fell at the feet of Shola Ameobi who lashed home a powerful left footed shot from a tight angle, with their goalkeeper falling to his knees.
United had chances to win it too, when Debuchy did brilliantly to head a Santon cross back across the goal, but Vuckic could only direct his close range header against the foot of the left hand post. Then when another deep cross evaded nearly everybody, Debuchy came steaming in, however, when a cool head was needed, he lashed a volley wide of the goal.
The hosts had been reduced to long range pot shots, one of which flew past Elliot’s post from a tight angle, but they almost clinched a late winner when Tiote, who until now had struggled to keep the ball within the pitch dimensions and on the rare occasions he did, had found yellow and green shirts, inexplicably gave the ball away on the edge of our area and as Neto clipped over the advancing Elliot and wheeled away, Vuckic did brilliantly to hook the all over and out for a corner.
The game ended all square. Reassessing our schedule, we have se fine tuning to do at Blackpool, St Mirren, Rangers and Braga. If you’re Adam Campbell or Haris Vuckic and you’re given a run out, then you couldn’t wish for a weaker list of opposition to go and bang a few goals in against, to stake your claim.
Newcastle United: Rob Elliot: Matthieu Debuchy (Paul Dummett 85), Fabriccio Coloccini, Steven Taylor (Mike Williamson 78), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa: Yohan Cabaye (Yoan Gouffran 46 (Adam Campbell 87)), Cheick Tiote, Moussa Sissoko (Haris Vuckic 78): Sammy Ameobi (Jonas Gutierrez 46), Shola Ameobi (Sylvain Marveaux 73), Hatem Ben Arfa (Davide Santon 46).
Subs Not used: Jak Alnwick.
Att: Under 2000
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