Gyans bundled effort ensured Newcastle did not hold a footballing Monopoly in the North East as Steve Bruce played his 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card...
After Bruce hyped up the possibility of Welbeck, Cattermole and Nedum Onouha possibly returning to the team, only the latter could make it into the match day squad. Richardson lined up in the middle of the park with Henderson, Elmohamady & Steed taking to the wings.
The match started at a frenetic pace, with the first chance falling to visitors and Shola Ameobi. Put clean through by Barton as SAFC attempted to play an offside that was never there. Luckily he shot wide and SAFC got off the hook.
Minutes later, SAFC wasted a glorious chance of their own. Darren Bent was put through by Steed Malbranque, once the England hit man turned Collocini in the area he unfortunately fired straight at Steve Harper in the Newcastle goal.
It took only 13 minutes for the fans energy to spill onto the pitch, and following a crunching tackle, there were handbags at dawn for Bardsley, Bramble & Alan Smith. Referee, Howard Webb MBE, cooled the situation quickly.
From that moment on SAFC got more into the game following Newcastle’s dominance of the opening 15 or so minutes. Steed Malbranque testing Harper from distance, and Elmohamady having a shot deflected wide.
What followed were several scrappy minutes with neither team being able to keep hold of the ball.
Action returned in the 35th minute when Smith crumbled under a seemingly innocuous clip from Richardson. No lip reader was required to understand Smiths verbal volley towards the baying SAFC fans as he was replaced by Danny Guthrie.
The final 10 minutes were played out without much incident despite the pace of the game. Shola Ameobi shaving the bar about as close as anyone came. It could have been 1-1 easily at half-time, but as it was, it was 0-0 and plenty to be optimistic about the 2nd half. How wrong we were...
6 minutes into the half, Newcastle took the lead. Barton’s corner powerfully headed towards goal by Ameobi who was all over Ferdinand, and Chicken-Dancing Bellend, Kevin Nolan back-heeled in from less than a yard out in front of the Newcastle fans.
Newcastle grew in confidence after that, Best nearly making it two as he nearly connected with Barton’s cross.
SAFC were dire for much of the second half. How Richardson managed to stay on the pitch ahead of assured and creative players like Zenden or Reid became a big mystery at the Stadium of Light.
Gyan managed to craft a couple of half chances, but as the 75th minute approached, SAFC were huffing, puffing and hoofing the ball with no ideas whatsoever. It was meat and drink for Collocini & Williamson at the back.
Five minutes added on at the end, and SAFC looking out of ideas, with Newcastle sailing home. Step up Phil Bardsley. Bardinho, the Manchester Maicon, whatever you wish to call him, his low drive was only parried by Harper, straight at Gyan who knew nothing about it, and the ball looped over Harper and nestled into the back of the net. 1-1 and relief all round the Stadium of Light.
01 Gordon – 7/10 – Nothing he could do about the goal, and did everything else pretty well.
02 Bardsley – 7/10 – One of only a few to have much fight in him.
03 Richardson – 4/10 – Awful, awful and triple awful. How he lasted so long is beyond me.
08 Malbranque – 6/10 – Alright first half, but faded in the second. Couldn’t get on the ball.
10 Henderson – 5/10 – I had higher hopes for him today, but his crossing was shocking.
11 Bent – 5/10 – Work on your first touch ASAP please. Could have done better with 1st Half chance.
15 Onouha – 7/10 – Nothing wrong, glad to have him back.
19 Bramble – 7/10 – Did ok; keen to smash it clear as often as possible, at times nervy.
27 Elmohamady – 6/10 – Plenty of running, but end product lacking.
29 Ferdinand – 6/10 – Constantly in the wars, out muscled by Ameobi for their goal.
33 Gyan – 5/10 – Partnership with Bent looks out of synch. Struggled today despite goal.
07 Zenden – 5/10 – Barely remember him touching the ball.
25 Colback – 5/10 – See Zenden
Usually a last minute goal feels like a win, but it doesn’t today. We were shockingly bad. For all the talk of exacting revenge before the game it would have been nice to see some of it on the pitch.
However, on the positive side – We played terrible and got a point, we’re still 6th in the league and things can only get better.
New signings needed soon though. The fans continue to turn up in numbers and be vociferous; the ball is very much in your court Mr Bruce.