Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The late, late, late show

Coventry City 2 - 3 Newcastle Utd (aet)

What should have been a comfortable evening's run out at the Ricoh arena proved a real test of character for Newcastle last night, as Coventry forced our Carling Cup game into extra time thanks to an equalising goal in the fourth minute of added time, only for Michael Owen to once again score the winner and save us having to repeat the penalty experience we last endured/enjoyed at Watford in November '06.

Starting competitively, Chris Coleman's Coventry side looked eager to hustle and compete with a Newcastle side showing only a few changed from our victory over Bolton on Saturday. Duff and Martins were both sidelined through injury, whilst Taylor was given a rest on the bench. In to the side came Enrique, Geremi and debutant Bassong, with Milner partnering Gutierrez upfront.

After some early Coventry pressure, Newcastle's superior passing game started to carve out openings for the tireless Milner up front, and after 21 minutes, Gutierrez pass, and Milner's clever flick sent him through on goal. His cross was met by a combination of the onrushing N'Zogbia and defender Scott Dann taking the ball past one-time Ipswich keeper Andy Marshall.

A goal to the good, and with Milner in particular enjoying a fine night Newcastle took control of the game, and once Milner curled a fine second in to the goal the game looked almost dead and buried before half time. However, the cries of ole which greeted every pass became cries of anguish with seconds remaining in the half when Habib Beye got caught on the ball, and with our defence stretched, Clinton Morrison was able to lift the ball over the despairing Given's dive to give the home side a route back in to the match which they scarcely deserved.

The second half again saw Newcastle passing the ball well, with little threat coming from Coventry, save for the occasional long throw (or should I say freakishly long throw) from Aron Gunnarsson . However, with Coloccini and the impressive Bassong looking solid in the air, there appeared little threat, and with the signalled two minutes of added time played, Newcastle looked to have done enough to secure the win after a largely uneventful second period. However, with the referee deciding that he wanted to carry on well beyond the signalled two minutes, Coventry won a throw down the Newcastle left. Launching the ball into the box, Gunnarsson's throw was met by Dann to give the hosts a barely deserved chance to take the game into extra time.

With Keegan clearly fuming that the game had been able to carry on for so long, Newcastle were thankfully able to regroup and when Enrique won the ball on the half way line, his long range pass was brilliantly brought down by Owen (on for Geremi) before lifting it over the onrushing keeper to restore our lead.

Back came Coventry, almost snatching another goal at the end of the first period of extra time, only to see Elliott Ward's header rebound off the cross bar. However, that was their last chance, as we successfully retained possession thanks to some excellent passing to ensure our place in Saturday's third round draw.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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