Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sammy's star turn

Newcastle Utd 1 - 0 Club Bruges

After the frustration of conceding a late equaliser to the Great Unwashed last Sunday, it was back to European action for the Silver Fox and his team on Thursday night.

Sticking with his European philosophy of utilising the squad, we made nine changes to the team which started on Wearyside, with Steve Harper in goal, a back four of Davide Santon, Perchinho, Saylor (captain for the day) and Shane Ferguson. In midfield, Mr T was joined by Gael Bigirimana (aka Master T) and Vurnon Anita, with Little Big Lad, Obertan Kenobi and Papiss Cisse up front.

It was the visitors who started brightly, though. Looking to sit deep and counterattack at speed, they fashioned an early chance forcing Harper into a smart save low to his left,

At the other end Little Big Lad looked to be causing problems with his quick feet and close control and he produced a fine mazy run only to snatch his shot wide. Down the left Fergie was looking to get forward and put in a string of good crosses, one of which Cisse met with a strong header that produced a fine save from Bojan Jorgacevic.

With our trio of combative midfielders largely dominating possession, we saw lots of the ball, but unfortunately lacked someone to really pull the strings in midfield. With the sides still tied at the break, it was unsurprising that we re-emerged without Anita and with Big Lad taking his place as we switched to 4-4-2 and looked to presumably capitalise on the crossing prowess of Fergie.

As it was, though, the breakthrough came courtesy of Little Big Lad. He played a one-two with his brother before flicking the ball over his marker and bursting forward towards the Gallowgate goal, before releasing the ball in to the path of Obertan Kenobi down the right. He cut in and smashed a powerful shot into the far corner of the goal to give us the lead which our dominance merited. Credit too to the referee who played a good advantage following a foul of Little Big Lad just after he released the ball.

As an attacking force, we continued to threaten, but with Bruges now forced to press forward more in search of an equaliser, the game opened up. Mr T picked up a booking, to make it 30 in 60 appearances, and his young apprentice Master T followed suit later in the game,

At the back, aside from a couple of moments, Saylor came through 90 minutes unscathed and by the end of the game he had been joined by Sideshow Bob, who replaced Little Big Lad to help see out the game. Dreamboat had also entered the fray in place of Fergie and instantly showed what our central midfield had been missing with a fine pass round the corner with the outside of his boot.

Still, the team did enough to beat a well structured and dangerous Bruges side, even if the game itself is unlikely to live too long in the memory (aside from Little Big Lad's skill in the build-up to the goal). On the positive front, it was a welcome clean sheet and some more game time for Saylor in particular. Across the pitch, the players all looked to enjoy decent  games, although Mr T was, at times, slightly erratic in his passing and the fact that he again picked up a booking was frustrating.

Still, food for thought for the Silver Fox, with Obertan Kenobi, Little Big Lad and Master T all advancing their claims to a start in the league.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

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