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Who Picked The Team?

NEWCASTLE UTD: Given, Ramage, Boumsong, Bramble, Babayaro,Solano (Dyer 74), Parker (Clark 86), Emre (Bowyer 74),N'Zogbia, Shearer, Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Elliott.

PORTSMOUTH: Kiely, Griffin (Pamarot 46), Primus, O'Brien,Taylor, Routledge (Todorov 46), Davis (Diao 76), Pedro Mendes,O'Neil, D'Alessandro, Mwaruwari.
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Karadas.

Att: 51,627

Just how much influence Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer has on team selection, I don't know, but whatever changed - apart from the obvious (Souness being sacked) - let's have more of it. Shearer beat Jackie Milburn's goalscoring record at the Gallowgate end, and although the media insist this match will be remembered for that, it will be his LAST goal that will be remembered most. Forget that milestone, his was the day Newcastle United actually LOOKED like a Premiership team.

From the moment United walked on to the pitch, there was something different about them. Yes it is Glenn Roeder's caretaker reign off to the perfect start just three days after Graeme Souness' departure, but Shearer is the man that is the driving force behind this club. The huddle before kick-off showed the unity that has been missing in a dismal season. It was 'all for one - one for all' ... and it was there for all to see.

Shearer's milestone goal as he eclipsed Milburn's record was always going to spark wild celebrations, but Newcastle were superb in the first-half. A team with a purpose and determination that we lost under Souness, and the gloom was lifted.

Scott Parker's tigerish approach in central midfield set the tone, Emre's probing touch on the ball was pleasing on the eye and the endeavour of Nolberto Solano and N'Zogbia on the flanks was hugely influential. Players back to the positions they know, and every man understood what was expected of him.

Portsmouth keeper Dean Kiely pulled off a brilliant double stop from the lively Shola Ameobi and Shearer on 29 minutes might have suggested that, once again, it was not going to be the Magpies' day, and the keeper was swiftly off his line 10 minutes later to deny Shearer once again.

However, even though he managed to keep the 35-year-old out for a third time four minutes before the break, his luck was finally to desert him. Shearer's downward header from a Solano cross looked destined for the back of the net until the keeper blocked with his legs, but N'Zogbia was on hand to slot home the rebound to claim the advantage his side's first-half display deserved.

Shearer's big moment arrived with 64 minutes gone to spark a major celebration he said had him emotional for five minutes. Ameobi held the ball up on the edge of the box before back-heeling it into his captain's path, and the finish at the Gallowgate End was perfect.

Solano curled a 70th-minute free-kick just wide and Ameobi had appeals for a penalty turned down 17 minutes from time as Newcastle threatened to cut loose, and it was then that Roeder decided to introduce Lee Bowyer and Dyer.

Ameobi went close with an 86th-minute shot and Dyer flashed the ball across the six-yard box in the final minute of normal time, but it was fitting that it was Shearer's contribution which remained the most significant in the final stages.




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The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday February 5 2006

Time: 12:22PM

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