Harps Heroics Send Toon Top

Steve Harper v Sheff Utd

Coca-Cola Championship
Bramall Lane
Monday, November 2, 2009
Kick-off 7.45pm

Craig Hope reports from Bramall Lane ...


STEVE Harper's name rang out from the away end at Bramall Lane on full-time as his late heroics ensured Chris Hughton's men took all three points to shoot back to the top of the Championship.

Protecting a slender one-goal lead gained courtesy of Ryan Taylor's deflected drive on 54 minutes, The Magpies clung on to record victory in Hughton's first game since taking charge of the club on a permanent basis last week.

And, of that late drama; Keith Treacy was denied in the 92nd minute when his low strike was blocked by the shins of Harper, and the Toon stopper somehow thwarted Darius Henderson seconds later with a point-blank save after the forward had stormed in to connect with Andrew Davies' flick from just three yards out.

The win sees United regain pole position with a two-point cushion over second-placed West Brom.

SECOND-HALF UPDATES (click refresh for latest)

That's it, United are back top!

90+3min - Again, Steve Harper thwarts The Blades with a point-blank stop. This time it's Henderson, storming onto Andrew Davies' headed flick, who fails to find a way past the inspired stopper.

90+2min - Steve Harper saves United's skin as he blocks Treacy's low blast with his shins after Quinn's right-wing cross had found its way to the Irishman's unmarked feet inside the area.

There will be a massive five minutes added time.

89min - United swap a series of passes on the left with Enrique's cross culminating in a corner when it bounces behind off the heels of Morgan. The ball is worked short and The Magpies play for time.

88min - Keith Treacy's left-wing swinger looks for a moment as if it could creep under Steve Harper's crossbar. Luckily, though, the ball lands on the roof of the United frame and the visitors have a goal-kick.

86min - Thankfully, this game appears to be petering out - United have five minutes to hold on and they'll be back top.

85min - Jonas Gutierrez receives warm applause from the Toon Army as he makes way for Marlon Harewood.

79min - Nile Ranger wins a pat on the back from his team-mates for a strong header to clear from Quinn's whipped flag-kick.

78min - Ryan Taylor has reverted to right-back with Ranger joining Carroll in attack.

76min - The Magpies also make a switch and Nile Ranger replaces Danny Simpson.

76min - That will be Evans' last involvement and Kevin Blackwell uses his last change with on-loan striker Henri Camera coming on for his second Blades appearance.

75min - And again Harper is called into action as he falls low to smother Ched Evans' drilled free-kick from 25 yards - the Toon stopper had that covered all the way.

74min - Steve Harper comes to United's rescue as he spreads his body to keep out Darius Henderson's point-blank effort after Treacy's low cross had fell favourably for the frontman six yards from goal.

71min - Jordan Stewart makes way with David Cotterill entering the fray.

68min - Andy Carroll has been immense in a defensive capacity for The Magpies tonight and again he clears to relieve some temporary Blades pressure.

67min - The visitors are in control here; The Magpies look like a different side compared to their first-half offering.

60min - Kyle Walker is replaced by Ryan France.

54min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (0-1): Kevin Nolan slides to rob a casual Kyle Walker 25 yards out allowing RYAN TAYLOR a sight of goal. The midfielder steadies before seeing a vicious strike cannon off Chris Morgan and wrong foot Ian Bennett with the ball nestling in the bottom corner.

52min - Nolan looks to catch Bennett off his line with a delicate chip from 10 yards but the former Toon keeper manages to recover and backpedals to flap wide. Ryan Taylor's centre is only half cleared and the ball is worked back to the Scouser. He serves up a floated delivery and Andy Carroll is only denied an opener when his header brushes the base of the post and bounces wide - that was close.


Half-time, 0-0.

There will be two minutes added time.

42min - Ryan Taylor sleeps in possession in the left-back position and is robbed by Kyle Walker. Taylor, looking to atone for that error, tugs on the shirt of the defender but it's at the expense of a yellow card and a free-kick in a dangerous position. Keith Treacy fires low across a greasy surface but Alan Smith is first on the scene to avert the threat with a powerful clearance.

38min - And Andy Carroll follows marker Morgan into the book as he tussles with Matt Kilgallon with referee Kevin Friend deeming the Geordie forward to have used excessive force.

36min - Still United are struggling to find their fluency but the hosts have also lost some of their early impetus.

30min - And Morgan subsequently enters the book as he upends Carroll on halfway - the skipper looks bemused but it was a blatant booking.

26min - That attack appears to have lifted the visitors and they win their first corner when Nolan's cross is deflected behind off Walker. Ryan Taylor arrows over from the left and Andy Carroll is unlucky not to net when, after out-muscling the rugged Blades skipper Chris Morgan, he flashes a header wide of Ian Bennett's frame - that promises to be quite a duel between the United forward and home centre-back.

23min - United's first chance arrives courtesy of Kevin Nolan's penalty-box endeavour as he chases Jose Enrique's danger-zone punt. The Scouser seizes control to the right of Ian Bennett's target before clipping a pass to the supporting Ryan Taylor who, after directing a first-time volley on goal, is denied by the well-positioned Blades keeper who grasps with relative ease.

19min - Steve Harper comes to collect Quinn's far-post wedge but the Toon stopper snatches at fresh air with the ball bouncing behind off the back of Danny Simpson. Quinn delivers but it's a yellow shirt which swipes away at the near post.

14min - Jordan Stewart's cross, on initial viewing, doesn't look the best, but, somehow, the ball travels through bodies and bounces to the feet of Darius Henderson, unmarked six yards out. The former Watford man is perhaps caught unawares and snatches at a first-time effort. However, Henderson manages to retain possession and rolls back for the fast-arriving Keith Treacey, but, like his team-mate, he also gets a rush of blood and skies over the crossbar from 12 yards - he should have tested Steve Harper at the very least.

13min - Sheff Utd have enjoyed much the better of these opening exchanges and all of the attacking possession has indeed belonged to The Blades.

12min - The game's first corner belongs to the hosts but Quinn's delivery is dealt with at the near post by Ryan Taylor who hooks to the safety of the halfway line.

6min - Carroll, again, returns to lend a hand at the back and this time he nods clear amid a crowd of bodies from Andrew Davies' lofted free-kick.

3min - Ched Evans skids a low pass into the path of Darius Henderson, peeling off the shoulder of Coloccini, and the burly frontman is on goal. Henderson gets the ball out of his feet but draws a left-footed strike wide of the far post from just 10 yards out - he should have scored.

2min - Andy Carroll's first involvement is of a defensive nature as he rises to direct a powerful header clear of danger after Stephen Quinn had whipped into the penalty area from a deadball situation on the left.

The hosts get us started with United, wearing their change yellow kit, attacking the end where the 2,800 Geordies are housed.

The stadium observes a minute's applause in memory of former Blades and Magpies player Keith Kettleborough who passed away this morning aged 74.

The temperature may be dropping here at Bramall Lane but the noise levels are heading in the opposite direction as the teams emerge from the tunnell.


CHRIS Hughton welcomes back Fabricio Coloccini and Danny Simpson into his starting line-up but the new permanent United boss must do without Steven Taylor who remains sidelined with a hamstring problem.

Hungarain defender Tamas Kadar continues at the heart of the defence having made his full league debut during last weekend's 2-1 win over Doncaster Rovers.

Ryan Taylor moves up into midfield at the expense of Danny Guthrie and Alan Smith returns from suspension to make up a four-man engine roon alongside skipper Nicky Butt and Jonas Gutierrez.

Eight-goal top scorer Kevin Nolan will play just off lone frontman Andy Carroll.


SUFC: Ian Bennett, Kyle Walker, Chris Morgan (c), Matt Kilgalon, Jordan Stewart, Andrew Davies, Stephen Quinn, James Harper, Keith Treacy, Darius Henderson, Ched Evans
Subs: Ryan France, Kyel Reid, David Cotterill, Lee Williamson, Mark Bunn, Glen Little, Henri Camera

NUFC: Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Tamas Kadar, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Ryan Taylor, Nicky Butt (c), Alan Smith, Jonas Gutierrez, Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll
Subs: Tim Krul, Danny Guthrie, Marlon Harewood, Geremi, Nile Ranger, Ben Tozer, Ryan Donaldson

Referee: K.Friend
Attendance: tbc

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