Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday February 12 2006
Attendance: 37 140
Well, sod the result, I quite enjoyed that game! Entertaining, plenty of incidents, oh and a dire referee. The FA should ban Mike Riley, he upset the rhythm of the game far too often with petty free kicks - for both sides. This game is fast becoming a non contact sport and I'm fast losing interest!
Where to start? Villa were caught napping for the first goal, David O'Leary described it, to the fans around him, as 'sh*t'. Summed it up well really. It was just so easy for them to rip us apart, Sorenson went to come out, changed his mind, none of our defenders were anywhere to be seen, Craig Gardener was the closest player to Ameobi but the Newcastle striker had ages to neatly slot in the goal. Two minutes and we'd given Newcastle the sort of headstart that must drive managers - especially a former defender - mad. We were simply caught cold.
Ameobi had the chance to make the game history with a shot that deflected off Mellberg. The deflection could have gone anywhere with the keeper totally wrong footed, but then again, if it hadn't been deflected, it looked like it was a certain goal anyway. That was a let off as there would have been no way back from two down, not with our make shift team.
O'Leary had to seriously re-shuffle the pack because James Milner - on loan from Geordieland - was unable to play and Gavin McCann was suspended. Then Steven Davis picked up an injury and our midfield was as good as decimated. I can't understand why debut boy Gardner and left sided winger Peter Whittingham were put in the centre, especially when we had the experience of Hendrie and Barry to go there, but O'Leary makes the decisions and I find it hard to criticise too much as the lack of depth in the squad was so obviously always going to be a problem. Mind you, the formation of the team did look naive. Even Sky tried to correct it, as on Football First they listed Barry as a central midfielder. They were right, O'Leary was wrong!!
The first half it was men against boys in many ways, our midfield was over-run and Newcastle could have had four or five. Strangely though, Villa drew level following a beautifully lofted free kick from Gardner which was headed in brilliantly by the on fire Luke Moore. 1-1 and all to play for. Trouble is N'Zogbia restored the Geordies lead with a simple but effective move starting from Solano - rightly booed all afternoon for the underhand way he left Villa - shooting, Shearer getting the rebound and passing it to N'Zogbia to bury it. Lee Hendrie, in injury time missed a sitter (he should have at least been able to get his shot on target as he was only six yards away from the goal) which could have set the second half up nicely for Villa. Hendrie had one of his Hendire days, nothing went right and he didn't - as the most senior player - stand up and be counted.
Newcastle, throughout, were a professional and physical side scrapping for the valuable points. They wasted time as much as they could and used every trick in the book. How nice it was to see Alan Shearer go in for his 20millionth tackle leading with his elbow only to hurt himself.
Shearer nearly got to say his goodbyes to the Holte End with a well taken goal, but for the amazing goal line clearance by Mark Delaney - who has made the central defensive position his own. You seriously have to see the highlights to see how he flicks the ball away, I bet even he was surprised how he did it. Magnificent, sign him up!
If the first half belonged to Newcastle, the second half belonged to Villa. The Newcastle defence at times looked like the battle of the Alamo, Villa through everything at them, and had a good few chances, not to mention a missed penalty. Baros was 'brought down' although replays suggest there might not have been much contact. However he tamely - pathetically actually - kicked the ball down the centre, with no real purchase or power. Given won't have saved many easier. Angel had a glorious attempt which was superbly saved and Ridgewell really should have done better with a free header that hit the top of the crossbar.
Moore also broke free and could have either shot in the same direction that Ameobi did, or looked up and passed to a free Juan Pablo Angel, but I don't think anyone could blame the youngster - with four goals in two games - for attempting to score himself, trouble is he tried from an acute angel to beat Given at the near post and ended up hitting the side netting.
O'Leary says that Villa deserved to win the game and that Roeder should be manager of Newcastle because with that luck they will win the Premiership. Roeder says that O'Leary was spiteful and that Newcastle could and should have won the game by half time. I'd say a draw would have been fair, but our manager can't claim Newcastle were unlucky, they took their chances, we didn't.
Some papers have our 'spiteful' manager as the next Newcastle boss now, so we'll see. He certainly hasn't been backed at Villa by Ellis, but then again, he knew he was going to work for one of the biggest fools to ever work in football. Ellis has brought us to our knees and we have him to thank for the lack of depth and the lack of ambition.
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Date:Sunday February 12 2006
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