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Match Reports
Newcastle v Spurs, 01.04.06


Newcastle scorers:-
Bowyer, 2
Ameobi, 25
Shearer (pen), 30

Spurs scorer:-
Keane, 19

Attendance: - 52,301

Referee: - Mike Dean
Assistants: - A. Halliday, D.G. Kellett
4th Official: - M. Jones

Newcastle (4-4-2):- Given; Carr, Moore, Ramage, Elliott; Solano (sub Faye, 79), Bowyer, Emre (sub Clark, 63), N’Zogbia (sub Chopra, 90); Ameobi, Shearer (Capt.)

Subs not used: - Harper; Boumsong

Booked: - Moore, Emre

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, Dawson, Gardner, Lee; Jenas, Carrick, Davids (sub Murphy, 87), Lennon (sub Defoe, 70); Keane (Capt.), Mido

Subs not used: - Cerny; Stalteri, Huddlestone

Booked: - Dawson, Mido, Keane

Sent off (2nd Yellow):- Dawson

Spurs hopes of Champions League qualification faded and almost died at the Gallowgate End of St. James’ Park today. All the goals came in a disastrous first half, and the landslide started after only 65 seconds, as a make-shift Spurs defence, missing the injured Ledley King, succumbed to N’Zogbia’s run, and Bowyer’s close range finish. Ledley King was unavailable due to an ankle injury, which had been kept quiet by the management team. His replacement, Anthony Gardner, who has played little football recently, did not pick up the pace of the game until Spurs were already two goals down.

It’s not fair to blame Gardner alone. Stephen Kelly has been given a chance ahead of Paul Stalteri, who was on the bench today, but surely Stalteri will return next week, as Kelly’s inexperience was also exposed A Newcastle team that has looked less than ordinary for much of the season was made to look at its potent best by an insipid first half show from the visitors. Boumsong had been dropped to the bench, and it looked as if the Toon’s defence was there for the taking. Sadly, Spurs failed to venture far enough and often enough into opposition territory to take advantage of the potential weakness. The Geordies had lost 4 games on the trot, and I guess it was Spurs who suffered to consequences of the proverbial kick up the backside.

That early goal came as a result of a ball down the left channel, which left Gardner struggling against N’Zogbia, taking the ball inside the 6-yard box, and crossing low for Bowyer to make an easy close-range finish. There was a “battle of the boos” between the two sets of fans, as the Geordies booed Jenas, and Spurs booed Carr. It is, after all, a heinous crime for a footballer to voluntarily leave their club. The Spurs chants to Carr of “You should have stayed with a big club” were left to feel somewhat hollow when Jenas received derisory jeers for a second half howler in front of his former fans.

Spurs finally composed a decent move after 7 minutes, involving Carrick, Keane, Davids and Mido, but it came to nought. However, Paul Robinson was kept very active as he had to make saves from N’Zogbia and Solano. In between those saves, Dawson had to block a Bowyer shot. Having withstood a storm, Spurs drew level thanks to great work by Lennon and a fine headed finish by Keane, who has now scored 6 goals in 5 games. Lennon took on Carr, beat him and pulled the ball back from the bye-line with power, enabling Keane to meet it with a diving header, powered past Given into the net.

Spurs’ joy was short lived, as Solano’s shot could only be parried by Robinson, and Ameobi beat Gardner to the follow-up, scoring from short-range, and injuring himself in the process. Within minutes, Edgar Davids was caught out by Bowyer who braked sharply in the box, and fell at the touch of Davids’ hands upon his back. Mike Dean awarded the penalty, and Robinson committed to the left early, only to see Shearer crash home the spot-kick in his 300th Premiership game for Newcastle.

Dawson got a booking for a challenge upon Shearer near the half way line that was ultimately to prove expensive. Ameobi left Carrick trailing as he entered the Spurs area, but his shot was held by Robinson. There was a row between the two Captains, after Jenas had been down injured, and Dawson’s attempt at fair play went for a throw, instead of directly back to the home side. Then Robbie Keane led his team to challenge the throw, much to the disdain of his counterpart. Edgar Davids did the right thing, but then Dawson was also constantly booed by the home crowd for his failure to give the ball straight back to one of their beloved.

Just before the break, Carrick actually went on a run towards goal, and was brought down by Ramage just outside the box. There was no booking though, but Newcastle should have been punished by the kick, taken by Jenas, deflected to Mido, passed to Keane, whose rocket shot rebounded off the bar. A goal before half-time could have inspired Spurs to greater things, and they tried to score just after the break too, as Mido fed Jenas, whose cross found Lennon on the left side of the area, only to be blocked. Spurs broke from the back after 53 minutes, and give credit to Jenas for making a great run from behind Carrick who led the attack. Jenas got in front of play, and when Carrick’s ball was headed into his path by a defender, Jenas rounded Given, then only had the task of putting the ball into the net, or laying it back to Robbie Keane with the goal gaping. Jenas went for glory with a rising shot that hit the wrong side of the net.

Lennon and Carrick then combined to give Keane a chance from 22 yards, which was fired wide. On the hour, Dawson got in a tangle with Shearer, and the striker berated the referee about the foul and it seemed he was almost instructing Dean to show another yellow. Mr. Dean duly obliged and Spurs were down to ten. They adapted initially, with Jenas falling back to right back, and Kelly moving into Dawson’s slot

The ten men tried hard, and with fifteen minutes to go they had a claim for handball turned down by Mr Dean. The ball was clearly handled as Spurs tried to dink the ball over the defence, but the referee was a definite “homer” Keane had another shot wide after good work by Davids, who was replaced all too late by Danny Murphy, still trying to find a niche at his new club.

Spurs will remain in fourth place for one more week, but their aspirations must surely be more realistically to get a UEFA Cup place. Even that race could go to the wire.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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