Newcastle, Newcastle, Newcastle. What a funny place it is. Bloody cold at the best of times, full of women dressed (well hardly) for a climate more like Bermuda, lots of great drinking holes, the likely lads and full of people who go around saying daft things like, ‘when the boat comes in’. Truth is, of late, the boat certainly has started to come in. Especially since Granddad Robson arrived in town in his bath chair. The turn around in the teams fortune that he has masterminded has been remarkable. For all of that we have – or did until today – a pretty reasonable record up there. Sadly a must win game for us saw us cruelly robbed as Jimmy Floyd managed to get on the list of goal scorers again, but unfortunately at the wrong end!
Truth is that we were the better team for great chunks of this game, about a million times better than we had been against Blackburn bloody Rovers, but – once more – we had nothing to show for it at the end of the day.
It was a shock when Newcastle took the lead on the half-hour – and the source of the goal was even more surprising. Hasselbaink, sometimes lethal in front of goal, delivered a deadly blow when he flashed a near post header past Carlo Cudicini with unerring accuracy. If only he could dive and head the ball like that at the other end of the park we would be laughing, instead we were all crying softly. The bloody annoying thing is that Carlo had the ball covered. The goal was against the run of play but we deservedly restored equality five minutes later. Given (who otherwise had a good game) failed to claim the Gronks corner, and Lumpy sent a brilliant first-time volley into the top corner. We missed other chances to take the lead but after going behind I – for one – was happy to go in level at half time.
We missed a number of golden opportunities in the second half with Given saving the bar codes on a number of occasions. With the luck the Geordies have been having of late I guess it was inevitable that something was bound to happen and it did when a brilliant pass inside the Gronk to Bernard (stupid dreadlocks and all), who lifted a cool finish over the onrushing Carlo. We still could have snatched it at the death (or at least a point) but for all of our possession and chances we returned back south with nothing.
It looks now like we have little chance of catching third spot with games fast running out and with Everton picking up a point we might be hard pushed to hold on to the all important 4th spot. The road show moves to the Library next where a win – to hold on to our remaining chance of silverware – is vital.
TEAM; Cudicini – Melchiot, Gallas, Terry, Babayaro (Cole 77) – Gronkjaer (Zola 67), Morris, Lampard, Stanic (Zenden 67) – Hasselbaink, Gudjohnsen.
Subs Not Used: Evans, Huth.