Monday, August 14, 2006

Lat's the way to do it

FK Ventspils 0 - 1 Newcastle Utd

A powerful header by Titus Bramble gave us a crucial away goal in our bid to make progress in this season's UEFA Cup. Running on to an Emre corner, Bramble launched his ample frame through a crowd and connected strongly, to drive the ball into the hosts' net.

The game itself was a largely scrappy affair, with Newcastle's five man midfield (with Butt playing the anchor role to allow Parker licence to get forward) dominating possession, but unable to produce sufficient quality to create a goal. Damien Duff made his first competitive start for the club, and looked to pose a strong threat down the left, with his pace and trickery causing the Ventspils right back problems, and Emre looked to be pulling the strings in midfield.

However, it was the hosts who created the best chance of the half with Igors Slesarcuks forcing an excellent save from Shay Given when through on goal.

As it was we survived until half time without too many other worries, and the biggest question mark seemed to be that which hung over Given, who looked to be feeling a knock to his back, which caused him to wince when he kicked the ball.

The second half carried on as the first left off, with our early dominance diminishing slightly, but with us nonetheless looking the classier team. Then with seventy minutes gone, and Roeder looking to bring on fresh legs with the hope of nicking an away goal, Titus launched himself at Emre's corner and gave us a deserved lead.

With Emre and Shola both being clattered by tackles, it was unsurprising to see the Turk replaced by N'Zogbia, Milner arriving in place of Solano, as we looked to use his pace to stretch the hosts' tiring legs, and Ramage on for Babayaro as the game drew to a conclusion. However, we didn't do enough to score a second, and settled for a one nil lead and a clean sheet.

Given our problems in keeping a clean sheet so far this pre-season, this was a welcome boost, and another good run out before the start of our league season.

However, our lack of strikers was once again drawn in to sharp focus, when Ameobi looked to have taken a nasty blow to his knee. Thankfully he was able to continue, but the need to bolster our squad up front remains a pressing one.

Highlights: Toongoals

Other reports: BBC,


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