Monday, February 26, 2007

JJB-eaten again

Wigan Athletic 1 - 0 Newcastle Utd

Three times Newcastle have now visited the JJB Stadium, and three times we've left nursing a 1-0 defeat.

This time, we started brightly, and after several decent moves had bought good saves from Wigan keeper John Filan, Newcastle were awarded a penalty when Antoine Sibierski was fouled by Ryan Taylor in the box. Solano it was who took the ball, only to see Filan pull off an excellent save to tip the ball on to the post, and then watch as Solano's follow up sailed over the bar.

Sadly that was to proved the closest we would come to scoring all afternoon, and when Onyewu gave away a free kick near our box, it was Taylor who stepped up and fired the ball across Given and into the far corner. Question marks might be raised over the returning Irishman's positioning, but in fairness it was a very well struck free kick which flew inside the far post.

Coming just before the interval Newcastle's heads inevitably went down, and in the second half we failed to create the chances we'd managed in the first half, and as Wigan's tackling grew increasingly robust we descended to their level and started hoofing long balls down the middle. Having previously been reduced to this tactic by Watford, it remains a source of immense frustration that when confronted with direct teams we seek to outplay them at their own game, rather than simply pass them off the park - something we should be infinitely capable of doing.

As it was, we were left rueing three more points dropped, and with those around us enjoying good results we dropped back to 11th place, and watched as the chances of us qualifying for Europe via the league receded again. Scratching around for positives, the return of N'Zogbia (from the bench) is a welcome boost for the squad on what was otherwise a pretty grim afternoon in the north west.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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