Monday, October 18, 2004

Not Quite Happy Valley

Two goals from Newcastle players left us with 1 point from Sunday's trip to Charlton. Craig Bellamy's first half header, the product of an exquisite cross from Olivier Bernard was cancelled out by a scrappy, poorly defended goal which went in via both Stephen Carr and Andy O'Brien.

On balance, neither side really deserved to lose the game, with our dominant first half performance giving way to a shoddier, defensively more lax display in the second 45 minutes. Both sides had chances to win the game, with balls flying around both goal mouths as the seconds ticked away, and although Shearer had a header cleared off the line, he was also able to return the compliment and maintain Graeme Souness' unbeaten run at the other end.

Having started the better side, and generally bossed the first half well, Newcastle were slightly unlucky to be only one goal up at half time. Bowyer had what looked a perfectly valid goal ruled out for a push, and generally we dominated play. Shay Given being drawn into action on only one occasion, with a good one handed save denying a home team seemingly intent on committing as many snide, niggly, fouls as possible.

However, half time saw a change in both the weather and the performances of the two teams. In the first half we had bossed the play, controlled the midfield and kept things nice and simple, however in the second our control became cockiness, and sure enough we proceeded to concede a terrible goal. O'Brien let a throw in bounce over him, allowing Lisbie to get in on goal, and whilst Given delayed him sufficiently for Carr to get his foot in, our full back only managed to belt the ball goalwards, with the retreating O'Brien only able to deflect the already goalbound ball into a different area of the net.

Back on terms and Charlton started to play some better football, and as some of the Newcastle players tired, they were able to assert more control over the game. Souness rang the changes, replacing the tidy if unspectacular Ambrose with Robert and a somewhat disgruntled Bellamy with Ameobi.

However, despite some testing corners, and a cracking headbutt on Matt Holland, neither was able to influence the game to the level where one point became three. Milner later replaced Butt, as Souness went for broke, but ultimately it wasn't to be.

Interestingly Souness was asked about his attacking substitutions afterwards, and observed that with Robert the more he seemed to ask him to do defensively, the less he appeared to do, which meant the game much more open after he had come on. Quite where this leaves our second most expensive signing only time will tell, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him move in January, particularly if stories linking us to Damian Duff become a reality.

At the end of the day, a point away from home is always a point gained, but on another day it might have been three. Of course, Charlton could say the same, and for those of you seeking an alternative view of the match, All Quiet on the East Stand will happily provide one.


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