Middlesbro 1 Newcastle Utd 0
MIDDLESBROUGH 1 NEWCASTLE UTD 0
MIDDLESBROUGH: Schwarzer, Davies, Woodgate, Pogatetz,Taylor (Huth 46), Cattermole, Boateng, Euell (Maccarone 77),Downing, Yakubu, Viduka (Rochemback 46).
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Arca.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Harper, Carr, Moore, Taylor, Ramage,Milner (N'Zogbia 89), Parker, Butt, Duff,Sibierski (Ameobi 30), Martins.
Subs Not Used: Srnicek, Rossi, Bramble.
You could tell the spite in the Smogs long before the fixture. The MFI Riverside holds 35,120 yet they only sold 30,060 tickets, and only gave Newcastle HALF the usual allocation. A ground they cannot sell out, yet they fear the away supporters would create a better atmosphere than the home fans.
How ironic it was that Yakubu, a Newcastle target on more than one occasion, struck with five minutes remaining to plunge the Magpies deeper into trouble. Add to that, Boro kept a clean sheet helped by Jonathan Woodgate and Robert Huth who BOTH turned down the Geordies in the summer.
The Nigerian striker rose highest to meet Stewart Downing's corner from the left and power it past Steve Harper to record only their third win in 21 Premiership meetings with their hosts.
Manager Glenn Roeder has distracted the Boo-Boys by producing good results in Europe, but the tide finally turned on Sunday, and it wasn't Roeder they were gunning for. Chairman Freddy Shepherd has never been a popular figure on Tyneside, regardless what his St James' Park PR pump out in the media. And HE took the venom dished out on the final whistle.
The Toon supporters chanted for his removal and FINALLY the penny has dropped.
Roeder seems to have the sympathy of his fans, and his side certainly started the brighter. But Obafemi Martins - and Roeder - were left to rue the striker's 14th-minute miss when he beat the Boro defence and lobbed stranded keeper Mark Schwarzer - only to see his effort rebound off the bar.
But Boro improved midway through the first half and Steve Harper produced a superb save to keep the score goaless.
Antoine Sibierski limped off with an ankle injury and Roeder had to re-think his tactics. Martins was supposed to feed off the Frenchman, a tactic that has worked in the UEFA Cup, but instead Shola Ameobi was introduced and the pair never seem on the same wavelength.
Mark Schwarzer was called into action in the 35th minute to fist away a dangerous James Milner free-kick, then Ameobi produced the most casual-looking effort at goal I have seen all season.
Southgate made changes at the break, going for a 4-5-1 formation, and straight away Boro started to look the better side. Downing's corner from the right was flapped at by Harper before eventually being ushered off the goal-line. And the Smogs had a better chance in the 49th minute when a Downing free-kick eluded everybody in the box and was heading for the corner of the net until Harper turned it onto the post one-handed.
Rochemback saw his right-foot shot booted off the line by Steven Taylor, but just when it seemed the Mags were capable of sitting it out for a point, Harper had to pick the ball out of his net.
It was a bitter bow, and of course the fans wanted a scapegoat. Who better than Fat Fred?