Monday, September 03, 2007

Late show sinks Latics

Newcastle Utd 1 - 0 Wigan Athletic

For the first time in my life, I'm happily writing a match report which contains the phrase "Titus Bramble's poor clearance led to the only goal of the game". Thankfully, Bramble's place in the heart of the Wigan defence made the difference in this game, which was far more one-sided that an 87th minute Michael Owen winner suggests.

In truth, we were much the better side, and created several excellent opportunities for Michael Owen, only to see Chris Kirkland produce one excellent save, the linesman to wrongly flag for off-side when Owen put the ball in to the net, and for Owen to loft one further chance over the crossbar. Coupled with the fact that Steven Taylor also rattled the woodwork and Titus seemed to get away with a handball inside the visitors' penalty area, it looked like being one of those games when your only worry is whether your inability to put the ball in the net will come back to haunt you in the second half.

After the break, Steve Bennett mystifyingly decided that Kevin Kilbane's clash of heads with Alan Smith was in some way malicious (presumably seeing an elbow which replays showed wasn't there) and sent the former Mackem from the pitch with a second yellow card (the first coming from a fairly clumsy foul on Taylor in the first half). Down to ten men, the visitors' limited attempts to press forward were further curtailed as they sought to grimly cling on for a point.

Allardyce sought to freshen things up, and it was the introduction of Martins for Smith which proved the decisive change, when, as the game drew to a close, Bramble's poor clearance fell to Taylor. His ball found Martins down the right, and the Nigerian's powerful cross was met brilliantly by Owen's head at the near post to give us a thoroughly deserved victory.

Going into the international break, we sit pretty in sixth, and Allardyce can take a great deal of comfort from the fact that we now look a far more solid team at the back (with Rozehnal and Cacapa enjoying excellent days at the heart of our defence today - Taylor filling in at right back), with additional defenders coming in prior to the transfer deadline, and a general feeling that we look a much more solid side, and the goal drought at home also finally broken.

As is always a case with international fixtures, it's now a case of counting them out and counting them back, hoping that none of our players pick up knocks whilst representing their respective countries.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


Post a Comment

<< Home