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Match Reports
Newcastle v Spurs, 13.12.03


Robert, 35, 55
Shearer, 59, 66

Attendance:- 52,139

Referee:- Alan Wiley

Newcastle (4-4-2):- Given; Hughes, Woodgate (sub O'Brien, 46), Bramble, Bernard; Dyer, Speed (sub Solano, 78), Jenas, Robert (sub Ambrose, 78); Ameobi, Shearer (Capt.)

Subs not used:- Harper; Lualua

Booked:- Jenas, Ambrose

Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr (Capt.), Richards, Gardner, Taricco; Anderton, King, Poyet (sub Mabizela, 53), Konchesky (sub Dalmat, 78); Kanoute (sub Postiga, 61), Keane

Subs not used:- Burch; Doherty

Booked:- Gardner, Carr

This writer has been deeply embarrassed today. Firstly I had those optimistic dreams again. Dreams that Spurs would be competitive as stated by club Chairman Daniel Levy at Thursday's AGM. Dreams that Spurs could get a result and even overhaul Newcastle to reach the top half of the table. But no, those dreams were well and truly broken as a rampant Newcastle consigned Spurs to compete in the lower half of the league.

And yet, Spurs had been on level terms both in the scoreline, and territorially until Laurent Robert put the home side into the lead with a quite spectacular opener after 35 minutes. Spurs still managed a bit of fight until half time, but we didn't see them attack until they were three goals down fifteen minutes into the second half.

Oh we played a few games to keep us happy, such as "Spot the Poyet contribution". I won with a spot of a midfield header won, but otherwise the game just passed Gus by, and it was a merciful relief when Mabizela replaced him after 53 minutes. One could also play "Spot the meaningful shot from a Spurs player", and you would only have seen a handful throughout the game. Similarly one could struggle to see moves of more than two passes from Spurs, whose forwards had little service.

Apparently a couple of players were carrying knocks. One of these was Fredi Kanoute, who went off after an hour. Maybe Keane too was carrying the knock he received last week

There was a gentle exchange of shots in the first few minutes, before Newcastle were awarded a free kick for a foul by Gardner on Shearer. Robert took the kick, which was wide of the goal. The play was then mainly in the middle with Spurs keeping the Toon at bay, and generally not letting them too close to goal. On the half hour, Carr's long ball found Konchesky on the left, and he put a tempting low ball into the area, where Kanoute literally missed his kick, when he should have scored. Where Spurs could have had a lead, they fell behind never to recover five minutes later. Spurs failed to clear their lines from the left, and Ameobi forced his way across from right to left. The ball was half cleared from his feet only to land for Robert, who hit a spectacular dipping volley into the net. From a Spurs point of view, Robert should have been closed down, but the goal was unstoppable after it was hit.

Now the game became a little stretched as Spurs tried to get back, but after a Spurs attack, Newcastle broke clear, and as Poyet's tackle on Ameobi failed, the striker made a run down the left before bringing a good save from Keller from his shot. Just before the break, Konchesky needlessly lost out to Dyer who raced goalward, but hit his shot nearer the corner flag than the goal.

Woodgate was replaced by O'Brien, but he was to be given little work to do, as the game was played in the Spurs half for so long. There was some early chaos in the goalmouth after an Ameobi header across the goalmouth, a Spurs foot prodded the ball back and Keller had to make a quick booted clearance. Gardner received his 8th booking of the season, and conceded a foul 25 yards out. Robert touched the ball back for Shearer who hit a belter of a shot that curved away from the left post. Robert was allowed too much room as the ball was fed from right to left, and as Anderton tried to close him down all too late, the left-winger hit another superb shot from fully 25 yards, that crashed into the net. Four minutes later it was game set and match to the Toon, as Robert's corner was swept home all too easily by Shearer for his 100th home goal for United.

The fourth goal arrived after 66 minutes, from another Robert corner, taken on the right, that was allowed to bounce in the 6 yard box, before being headed home from close range by that man Shearer. Keller and Richards had to be kept apart as they argued the toss over who was at fault for the goal, and it looked like a rout was on the cards. Largely thanks to Keller no more goals were scored, but not for the want of trying by an unmarked Dyer at the back of the area, and then Shearer with a cracking shot after being set up again by Robert.

Spurs only effort came from a corner, headed across the area by Gardner and fired goalward by Ledley King, only to be thwarted by Given, saving with his feet.

There was some spirited chanting from the away support, but it was a long way to go to watch what was ultimately the most disappointing show of the season so far. Spurs must now re-group for the Carling Cup Quarter-final against Middlesbrough on Wednesday, and the Premiership home match against Manchester United next Sunday.

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