Toon Tough It Out
Aston Villa: Sorensen, Hughes, Mellberg, Delaney, Samuel, Gardner (Ridgewell 59), Hendrie (Baros 55), Barry, Whittingham, Moore, Phillips (Angel 55).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, De la Cruz.
Newcastle Utd: Given, Ramage, Bramble, Boumsong, Babayaro, Solano (Elliott 66), Emre, Parker, N'Zogbia (Bowyer 85), Shearer, Ameobi (Dyer 69).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Clark.
Eighteen months ago David O'Leary was tipped to be Newcastle manager after Sir Bobby was handed his bus pass and a boot up the backside. But much water has passed under the Tyne bridge since then, and perhaps we were lucky he turned us down. Villa are hardly in the place we wanted to be, after all ... we're above them in the table, and their dreadful home form was there to be exploited.
Substitute Milan Baros had the Holte End mocking the Geordies after he was brought down by Celestine Babayaro, but were stunned into silence when Shay Given kicked away his poor penalty. You just knew from that moment that O'Leary's boys were going to get nothing from this fixture.
But perhaps it could have been different if Villa had our James Milner in their ranks, but Fat Fred learnt from the experience of Lomana Lua Lua a couple of years ago, and added some small print in his loan contract. OK, the home side were camped in our end for long periods, but hardly surprising considering they had more men on the field for the last half hour.
But it is a new Newcastle since Souey packed his bags (not a second too soon). The same players ... but different attitude. Suddenly the boys in black and white want to play for the manager. There is a purpose; tactics; and motivation.
It was a struggle, but this was the side that humiliated the Smoggies last week in ICI City, and the result was more impressive than the performance. But that 'all for one - one for all' spirit saw the boys through.
Emre caused Villa trouble from the start, but it was the instinct and foresight of Alan Shearer that undid the hosts, by setting up the decisive strikes for Shola Ameobi and Charles N'Zogbia.
The game got off to a dramatic start with Newcastle taking the lead after only 80 seconds though Ameobi. Nobby Solano was booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball but the winger had a hand in the build-up to the goal. Solano played the ball into Shearer whose delightful first-time flick allowed Ameobi a free run at goal from the right. He kept his cool before drilling a low shot cross Thomas Sorensen into the corner of the net.
But Villa drew level in the 17th minute with Moore scoring his fifth goal in the last three matches. Moore was fouled by Bramble then met Craig Gardner's free-kick at the near post and send a glancing header past Given.
Newcastle regained the lead after half an hour through young N'Zogbia. Shearer was again the creator with another inch-perfect ball into the path of Solano whose powerful shot was beaten out by Sorensen. The Villa defence seemed slow to react to the rebound and N'Zogbia needed no second invitation to turn the ball into the corner of the net.
Newcastle were reduced to 10 men when Babayaro was deemed to be the last man when he brought down Baros in the box. It looked harsh at the time, but seeing it later on TV, perhaps the referee got it right because there was certainly contact. But Baros tried a cheeky shot down the middle and Given read it, all to the delight of the travelling Toon Army.
Liam Ridgewell hit the bar with a thumping header from Peter Whittingham's corner and Given made a superb save when he tipped over Angel's volley. Two out of two for Roeder and Shearer ... and happy days are ahead.