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NUFC 2 Wigan 1

NEWCASTLE UTD: Given, Carr, Bramble, Moore (Taylor 45), Babayaro,Solano, Parker, Butt (N'Zogbia 16), Emre, Duff,Ameobi (Luque 76).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Milner.

WIGAN: Kirkland, Boyce, De Zeeuw, Hall, Baines,Valencia (Connolly 90), Scharner, Landzaat (Kavanagh 87),McCulloch, Heskey, Camara.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Jackson, Wright.

Newcastle United had only won once on the opening fixture of the Premiership since 1997. Lomana Lua Lua hit a brace, and Alan Shearer and Nobby Solano one each in a 4-0 win over West Ham on the opening day of 2002-03, their only victory in almost ten years.

1998 Charlton (H) 0-0
1999 Aston Villa (H) 0-1
2000 Man Utd (A) 0-2
2001 Chelsea (A) 1-1
2002 West Ham (H) 4-0
2003 Leeds Utd (A) 2-2
2004 Middlesbrough (A) 2-2
2005 Arsenal (A) 0-2

But the record books were changed as United sent their fans hope with a win - if not confidence that it could be a memorable season. What they saw what exactly what they have been screaming about for months ... a side struggling to get by with a below-strength strike force, and a defence that should do better. Something Glenn Roeder knows only too well.

To his credit, Shola Ameobi rose to the challenge of replacing Alan Shearer, as grabbed the winner a hard-fought victory over Wigan. But he seemed to struggle throughout with that hip injury we have heard so much about. The lad fought through the pain barrier, and it was there for all to see.

The 24-year-old fired home the winning goal on 64 minutes to hand the Mags three points just as it looked as though they had surrendered at least two of them.

Skipper Scott Parker had headed the Magpies into a 38th-minute lead, but Newcastle's defensive frailty struck once again 14 minutes after the break as Lee McCulloch levelled.

But with his side struggling, Ameobi converted after Chris Kirkland could only block Charles N'Zogbia's stinging drive to claim victory in front of a crowd of 51,569.

The visitors hit the post through Henri Camara, saw Shay Given keep out a McCulloch header and Nolberto Solano clear an Arjan De Zeeuw effort off the line, and I'm sure they will feel they should have left with at least a point.

Nicky Butt started his first Premiership game for Newcastle in 16 months, and he must have been relieved to be applauded warmly from the pitch when he was forced to make a premature exit after a clash of heads. A big change from the pre-season friendlies at St James' Park when he was booed ONTO the pitch by the Geordies.

Scott Parker did what Alan Shearer did for years, lead by example, showing Roeder was right to hand him the arm band.

Wigan huffed and puffed looking for the equaliser, and Camara saw an 84th-minute shot deflected just wide and a penalty appeal against Tirus Bramble was waved away. But thankfully the Magpies managed to hold out to claim the points.

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

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday August 20 2006

Time: 4:48PM


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