Monday, November 28, 2011

Rearguard resolve rebuffs Reds

Man Utd 1 - 1 Newcastle Utd

A terrific defensive effort, coupled with a little bit of help from the officials, meant that we came away from our second trip to Manchester with a well-earned point and another fine example of our collective will and refusal to give up.

With Sideshow Bob fit to play despite worrying reports of a back spasm on Friday, the only change from our trip to Man City saw Obertan Kenobi restored to the team in place of Little Big Lad. After riding an early surge from the home team, which saw Shrek and co charging forward at every opportunity, we gradually managed to get a toe-hold on the game and even created a couple of chances ourselves, with Demba Ba unable to find a finish after a clever ball from HBA and Kenobi enjoying perhaps his finest game to date up against his former employers.

Goalless at half-time we looked reasonably stable, with the Silver Fox even going on to remark that he thought we had looked the better side during the opening 45 minutes.

However, the home side managed to get a lucky break shortly after the match resumed when Saylor blocked Shrek's shot, only for it to rebound straight off Hernandez and into our goal, with Tim Krul helpless.

Thankfully the collective spirit that saw us keep going to the death against Man City was again evident as we forced our way back into the game. First a Sideshow Bob shot from a Dreamboat corner was smartly saved by De Gea and then, when Rio Ferdinand tackled HBA in the box, the linesman awarded us a penalty. The referee (who had initially given a corner, presumably because he thought Rio took the ball) overruled his own decision and, ignoring the gaggle of clucking Reds who surrounded him and his assistant, awarded the penalty, which Ba slotted home, having sent De Gea the wrong way, to score his ninth of the season.

At this point, I'll hold my hands up and say that we were fortunate to get the spot-kick. However, given the shocking decisions we've been subject to down the years (Solskjaer's unpunished assault on Aaron Hughes in 2002-03 and Shearer being denied a stone-wall penalty in 2003-04 both spring to mind), I'll take it.

After that, the home team started to crank up the pressure and when Spidermag was sent off with ten minutes to go for his second booking of the match, it looked like we might just come up short.

However, that was when we really saw the benefit of the team spirit and collective defending which has served us so well this season, with Saylor repeatedly throwing his body in the way of shots, Danny Simpson producing a stunning clearance off the goal line and Krul in magnificent form to deny Vidic from close range. The one time Man Utd got the ball over the line, in the fourth minute of Fergie Time, the "goal" was rightly ruled out for offside.

To have lost so late would have been a travesty. If we can continue to carry that level of performance into our next game, at home to a Chelski side who still look far from convincing, we could well be celebrating a fine return to St James' Park.

A Man Utd fan's perspective: We All Follow United

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

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