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Ridiculous Time - 11,000 Missing

NEWCASTLE UTD: Given, Ramage, Bramble, Boumsong, Elliott, Solano,Parker, Emre, N'Zogbia, Dyer (Bowyer 76), Ameobi (Luque 70).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Faye, Clark.

SOUTHAMPTON: Bialkowski, Ostlund, Powell,Lundekvam (Potter 45), Brennan, Cranie, Wright,Jones (Blackstock 76), Oakley, Pahars (Dyer 45), Madsen.
Subs Not Used: Smith, Kenton.

I can only suggest that the reason the thousands of season ticket holders snubbed this tie was because of the ridiculous time it was played - 5:40 on a Saturday evening. And, of course, because it was on the box. But such is football these days, and the 40,975 crowd was 11,000 down on a normal league game.

Some fans passed around the new Toon Army flag, bringing back memories of the Keegan days, when Keith Barrett's massive flag was the toast of the country. But Sir John Hall put a block on the old one, saying it wasn't fire proof. And when the lads made it fire proof (and Talk Of The Tyne helped them do it) ... Hall decided it was 'too dirty and there had been complaints from some wearing suits in the Milburn Stand'.

The main news prior to the match was the omission of Alan Shearer, due to a calf injury, and Kieron Dyer signalled an end to his injury nightmare as he lined up alongside Shola Ameobi, and stole the headlines from the legend number nine.

The England midfielder, struck on 68 minutes to seal a tie which the Magpies should have had sewn up before the break, but might have lost as they fell apart after it.

Dyer, making his first start since August 28, slotted past goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski, who was later carried off on a stretcher, after running on to Charles N'Zogbia's through-ball to ease the nerves at St James' Park.

The win gave caretaker boss Glenn Roeder his third in succession since replacing Graeme Souness and kept Shearer's trophy dream alive. Newcastle, for once this season, went into the game justifiably brimming with confidence after successive Premiership victories over Portsmouth and Aston Villa. And for the opening 45 minutes, Roeder could have had few complaints as his side played attractive football, dominated the game, defended resolutely and looked as if they would win at a canter.

The only problem was the final ball and some lucky Southampton defending, as United twice hit the post. The finishing was not particularly poor, just 18-year-old Pole Bialkowski was a man in inspired form.

Bialkowski pulled off three saves in the first half, blocking a goal-bound effort from Nolberto Solano and diving to keep out Dyer's 22nd-minute strike after he and Solano had twice exchanged passes. However, he saved the best until two minutes before the half-time whistle when he somehow managed to turn Shola Ameobi's blistering drive over the crossbar from point-blank range to keep his side in it.

Ameobi had earlier seen a shot clip the outside of the post and go wide and defender Jean-Alain Boumsong headed against the underside of the crossbar, but there was to be no breakthrough for the Magpies.

Newcastle were ragged as the second half got under way, and although Ameobi had penalty appeals turned down after going to ground under Alexander Ostlund's challenge, they were almost caught out on 48 minutes.
Robbie Elliott carelessly gifted the ball to Jones, and although he blazed his shot high and wide, warning had been served.

Defender Darren Powell headed wide from a corner, and the Saints were in again on 58 minutes, this time Madsen shooting over the top with just Given to beat after Ostlund had found space on the right.

Newcastle needed to respond and they did on 68 minutes when he collected N'Zogbia's through-ball and race clear of the cover to tuck it under Bialkowski. His celebrations were understandable, although they cost him a booking as he into the Gallowgate End.

Roeder immediately replaced Ameobi with £9.5million Spaniard Albert Luque, who had not figured in either of his previous two matches in charge, and he was quickly followed by Dyer, who made way to rapturous applause for Lee Bowyer.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday February 19 2006

Time: 1:08PM


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