Date:Sunday January 16 2011
It said a lot about the game that the celebrations wouldn't have been out of place at the World Cup. As it was, Asamoah Gyan's 94th minute equaliser was as much as the unwashed could have dared hope for after being completely outplayed over the 95 minutes.
The fact that Gyan knew very little about it epitomised the daylight robbery that saw the mackems steal a point at the death. And oh how the degenerates celebrated, almost as if these games mean more to them than any other. Funny then, that forums are littered with utterances of how the league position is all that matters to them. Yeah ok lads...
The truth is that the manner of today`s draw would always feel like a victory for the hosts and a defeat for us. But most Newcastle supporters would have taken a point before kick off and the harsh reality is that we are top dogs for the season. They have to wait a long time to get bragging rights, and that`s got to hurt.
Steve Bruce was left sweating until the last minute and the relief on his face palpable. But of course, sadly he didn`t get chance to put that record on the turntable to right the wrongs of our PA playing Daydream Believer following the rout at St James`. Revenge would have been sweet puddin` head, but you`ll have to wait a while yet.
Even with the side missing key players in Taylor, Tiote and Carroll, Pardew`s side dominated proceedings almost from start to finish and always looked comfortable until the final minutes. Shola had a chance which was surely easier to score within the first few minutes but which he dragged wide with his weaker left foot.
At the other end, Harper denied Darren Bent well and that was about all the home side had to offer. Ameobi went close with a header and Coloccini had a shot cleared off the line before half time. The final quarter of an hour slowed from a relentless pace but we had always looked in control of matters.
And after a great start to the second half, Ameobi`s header from a corner fell to Nolan with his back to goal and a cheeky back heel was about his only option. The black and whites behind the goal went mental as the ball nestled in the net.
Again we marshalled them well at the back with almost consummate ease and really with them in disarray, the opportunity to put the game out of reach was spurned. And we were made to pay in the cruellest possible way, deep into injury time. Some slack play led to a loose ball which Phil Bardsley picked up and his shot could only be parried by Harper, with the ball rebounding off Gyan and into the net.
There was perhaps a harsh lesson to be learned about finishing teams off and having the right players to do that. But there were important players missing who could have contributed to having that killer instinct shown in other games this season. And despite the disappointment of dropping two points, we should take nothing away from a performance which saw everyone in black and white come out with credit.
Trouble at both ends of the ground potentially marred what was an entertaining game. One local mong managed to get on the pitch and shove Harper to the ground after the leveller. While at the other end, both sets of supporters traded missiles in a bit of a stand-off after the whistle. Hardly breaking new hooligan ground but again something which would have been better avoided for both clubs.
But what happens on the pitch is what matters, and while it`s undoubtedly a bitter pill to swallow to have victory snatched away, the season`s bragging rights are ours. Four points from six and a 6-2 aggregate score line are what matters, and they can tell people otherwise, in vain, all they want.
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Date:Sunday January 16 2011
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