Monday, July 17, 2006

Nor score draw

Newcastle 1 - 1 Lillestrom

A first European goal for the club by Albert Luque gave us a barely deserved draw against a much fitter and better organised Lillestrom side on Saturday. The draw, which leaves us needing to better this result in Norway on Saturday in order to progress, was a decent return against a side in the middle of their football season, but casts doubt over whether we'll be able to progress to the UEFA Cup.

The game itself followed a fairly predictable pattern, with the visitors dominating the opening exchanges, forcing a good save from Given and a goal line clearance from Babayaro before Robert Koren opened the scoring with a shot which deflected off Steven Taylor and looped over Shay into the Gallowgate net.

For the remainder of the first half we created little, with an Emre free-kick perhaps the closest we came to an equaliser.

With the need to try and restore parity of paramount importance, we started the second half well, and within five minutes our makeshift strike force of Milner and Luque combined to allow the Spaniard to set inside his man, and curl a left foot shot into the net, and score his first competitive goal and St James' Park.

With Newcastle finding renewed impetus in the second half, we began to compete more, and showed impressive stamina given our relative lack of training. Nonetheless, a second goal was not forthcoming, with our best chance falling to Alan O'Brien (on as a substitute for Luque) who shot wide in the last minute of the match. The win would have been undeserved, though.

With the game now behind us, we can approach next Saturday's game with an extra week's training, and with Lillestrom in action of Wednesday in their domestic league, it could be that we've got the edge in terms of stamina next week. However, to progress we'll need to score goals, and for that to happen our midfield will need to play a lot better than they did on Saturday (the reliable Parker aside).

Reports: BBC, Guardian,


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