Monday, November 17, 2008


Newcastle Utd 2 - 2 Wigan

If you'd told me before 3pm on Saturday that Wigan would come to Tyneside and score twice, and then asked me to name the Latics' scorers, my reply would have been instant: Ryan Taylor and Titus Bramble.

Curling free-kicks from Taylor's boot condemned us to defeat on both our last two visits to the JJB Stadium, something Steve Bruce clearly remembered in drafting him into the side following their 3-0 thrashing by Arsene Wenger's Foetus FC on Wednesday. And sure enough Taylor was on the scoresheet with a spectacular shot with just three minutes on the clock. That's five goals for Wigan now, three of which have been against us.

Meanwhile his teammate, possessor of the largest arse in football, slyly waited to strike his own even more devastating blow until a minute from time, heading in to give the visitors what even the staunchest Toon fan must concede was a fair share of the spoils.

On an afternoon ultimately best described as eventful, our first half performance was largely a non-event. Cacapa paid the price for the cock-up that gifted Fulham the advantage last time out, with Sebastien Bassong becoming Fabricio Coloccini's third different partner in as many games, but our real problems were further forward. ASBO injured himself in a crunching challenge with former Smoggie hardnut Lee Cattermole - his knee ligament injury expected to keep him out of action for up to eight weeks - but neither his replacement Danny Guthrie or his teammates could muster up anything much resembling a chance. The closest we came was when Bramble gave Obafemi Martins a sniff of goal shortly before the break, but he could only shoot straight at Chris Kirkland.

The second period was ten minutes old when referee Andre Marriner showed a yellow card to the Bramble's already-booked central defensive partner Emmerson Boyce for what with the benefit of replays was a clean challenge on Shola Ameobi. So, yes, Brucey, an unfair dismissal - but we suffered a similar fate when Habib Beye was wrongly sent off against Man City and in any case it got your cauliflower face turning the same shade of puce as your mentor's at Old Trafford, so in that sense totally justified.

Even with that helping hand, though, we didn't look like making a breakthrough so JFK turned to the bench, throwing on Little Saint Mick and Charles N'Zogbia for Jose Enrique and Spiderman. Our glum-faced striker - well, so would you be if you were being kept out of the starting XI by Shola - made an instant impact by missing two splendid openings, and we were very fortunate to escape when Wigan substitute Henri Camara coasted past Coloccini with alarming ease and planted his shot against the post. But with time running out parity eventually arrived courtesy of some poaching par excellence by Owen, who profited when Ameobi's shot was parried to his feet by Kirkland.

Relief soon gave way to elation, as Owen's fellow sub N'Zogbia made great strides forwards from left back and slid the ball into Martins inside the area, the Nigerian revelling in the space afforded to him by walloping a shot past Kirkland.

Just three minutes for us to hold out - but that was one minute too many. Habib Beye conceded a needless corner which Daniel De Ridder swung in for Bramble to glance home. Who to blame? It was N'Zogbia whom Bramble out-jumped, but surely it should have been Ameobi picking him up? And what's the point of having a man on the post if Duff is going to do a bit of a Kieron Dyer "I'm a little teapot" impression and not keep the ball out?

Whatever, even though we'd have been grateful for just a point ten minutes earlier, it was a very hard knock to take - the difference between finishing the day in 11th and, as was the case, climbing asthmatically to 17th, perched precariously above the danger area with our annual hiding at Stamford Bridge looming large on the horizon...

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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