Monday, January 17, 2011

Double derby delight denied

5under1and 1 - 1 Newcastle Utd

Black cats are widely associated with luck, both good and bad, and such was the case at the Stadium of Shite. Having been outplayed by a superior Newcastle side, 5under1and managed to sneak a point with a 94th-minute equaliser that bounced in off the otherwise useless Asamoah Gyan. The spawny, spawny bastards.

The omens for us looked good prior to kick-off. Cheik Tiote's absence through suspension meant a start for Alan Smith, but on the positive side our derby talisman Big Lad was passed fit and replaced Peter Lovenkrands as Leon Best's partner. Steve Harper, Jose Enrique and Spidermag were restored to the side, with Tim Krul, Wayne Routledge and James Perch dropping to the bench as we sought to bounce back from the Stevenage debacle. The fact that the Mackems near-flawless home form had been wrecked by Blackpool and Notts County also gave us hope of echoing if not matching our Halloween trick/treat and putting Ol' Cauliflower Face's weird-shaped nose further out of joint.

Big Lad should have added to his six goals in derbies within three minutes of the first whistle. Racing onto ASBO's perceptive through-ball and clear of a clueless defence marshalled by captain-for-the-day Titus Shambles, the prospective Nigerian international could only slide his shot wide of the advancing Craig Gordon. He had another opportunity at the end of the first period but headed narrowly over.

Sideshow Bob actually came closest to breaking the deadlock, Kieran Richardson clearing his close-range shot off the line, while at the other end, once the Mackems had gradually weaselled their way into the match, Harper was called upon to save with his shin and then hands from Darren Bent and Steed Malbranque respectively. The half's only other real incident of note came when Richardson - apparently intent on making amends for the absence of professional red card magnet Lee Cattermole - clattered into Smith, the Yorkshireman having to be replaced by Danny Guthrie.

The old foe could have scored early in the second period when hesitant defending let in Bent, but he hooked his shot wide as Harper raced off his line - and soon afterwards we were ahead. From ASBO's corner, Big Lad leapt impressively to power a downward header goalwards which Kevin Nolan helped into the net with a cute backheel. Cue the familiar byline chicken strut and delirium in the away end. After his hat-trick in October, the Great Unwashed probably aren't too keen on the sight of our captain, are they?

The Mackems' pitiful response to falling behind - which amounted to little more than an Ahmed Elmohamady shot that Richardson couldn't direct on target - had us quaking in our boots about as much as their pre-match vows promising to exact revenge for the Halloween thrashing. We calmly went about our business, controlling the game and looking the more potent going forwards. Leon Best bamboozled Shambles but fired his shot wide of the near post, and was then unmarked and perfectly placed in the centre of the goal six yards out only for the marauding Enrique to lift an ambitious volley over the bar instead of knocking the ball square.

Lovenkrands came on for Best but our third and final substitution, in the 90th minute, was more significant, affording us our first glimpse of Dan Gosling following his recovery from long-term injury and sparkling performance in the midweek closed-doors friendly against Hibs.

But then, with just a minute of stoppage time left, came the fatal and fateful blow. Harper should perhaps have done better than to parry David Bardsley's drive straight into the danger zone, but can consider himself very unlucky that the ball ricocheted off Ghanaian striker Gyan and looped into the net. Several thousand red-and-white ne'er-do-wells had already slunk away back to the rocks from under which they'd crawled out, but some of those who remained were unable to contain themselves at the simply sewpa turn of events and leapt onto the pitch, one young tyke knocking over the crestfallen Harper. Lock him in a room with ASBO and Rocky, I say.

So, we would have taken a point before kick-off, didn't lose and denied the Mackems the revenge they craved and Ol' Cauliflower Face the chance to serenade us with his specially chosen song. But inevitably the result feels like a deflating defeat.

A Mackem fan's perspective: Roker Report

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

Labels: ,



Blogger Unknown said...

And you should add that it was newly arrived Dan Gosling who abandoned his wing post to run to help the already well positioned Barton & Guthrie which created the void from whence the shot came that bounced off Gyan & into the net.

3:52 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home