NEWCASTLE UNITED 2
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Craig Hope reports from St.James' Park ...
NEWCASTLE United opened up a ten-point gap at the top of the table heading into Christmas as goals from strike pairing Marlon Harewood and Shola Ameobi saw off North East rivals Middlesbrough in front of a record Championship crowd of 49, 644.
Chris Hughton made four changes to the side which drew at Barnsley eight days ago and it was three of those men who combined to break the deadlock on 16 minutes; Danny Guthrie's whipped free-kick turned into the path of Harewood by the head of Ameobi allowing his attacking accomplice to stab home from close range.
And Ameobi made sure of the points just shy of the hour mark, Guthrie serving up an irresistible centre for the Geordie hitman to head his seventh of the season.
SECOND-HALF UPDATES (click refresh for latest)
Full-time, 2-0 United!
90+2min - Guthrie spins a free-kick into the danger zone from the right but the delivery has slightly too much height for Nile Ranger and his dreadlocked head can only glance wide.
There will be four minutes added time.
88min - This game looks to be meandering to its conclusion with United firmly in control.
84min - Goalscorer Shola Ameobi receives a standing ovation from the Geordie fans as he is replaced by Fabrice Pancrate.
83min - Guthrie bends a free-kick on target from 20 yards but Jones beats clear before gathering the loose ball with Ameobi closing in.
81min - Coloccini stops Boro in their tracks with a perfectly-executed sliding challenge to rob Lita inside the area before clipping a delightful pass to Simpson on the right and winning rapturous applause from the home crowd.
78min - Hoyte slides to nick from Jonas and United have a corner on the right. Guthrie and Gutierrez work short but between them they contrive to lose possession and the chance is wasted.
74min - Mark Yeates goes down all too easily under the challenge of Danny Simpson and Boro have a free-kick in a threatening position on the right. O'Neil wraps his foot around the delivery but it's a black-and-white head which wins to avert the danger.
68min - A rare opening comes the way of the visitors but Leroy Lita smashes into the lower rows of the Leazes End from 12 yards out after Bent had rolled a short pass into his feet.
65min - A change for Boro sees Mark Yeates replace former Sunderland winger Julio Arca, while Marlon Harewood makes way to warm applause from the Toon Army as Nile Ranger enters the action.
59min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (2-0): Danny Guthrie serves up an irresistible, whipped centre from the right which wins the finish it deserves as Shola Ameobi peels off the shoulder of Wheater to power a header beyond a rooted Jones from six yards out.
58min - Danny Simpson is booked for a late challenge which sees O'Neil end up on his backside on the Milburn Stand touchline. From the resultant free-kick David Wheater comes within inches of levelling as his header bounces narrowly wide.
56min - Jose Enrqiue skids a low, left-wing cross dangerously into the six-yard area. Marlon Harewood is perhaps caught unawares by the speed of the delivery and the ball gets caught under his studs allowing Brad Jones to scramble clear - that should have been a goal.
55min - It's been confirmed that United have set a new record attendance for the Championship with 49, 644 flooding through the Gallowgate gates today - that's more than 2,000 better than the previous record set by Sunderland.
52min - Harewood fends off the attentions of Wheater and wins a corner off the studs of the Boro defender. Guthrie flights to the far post, Ameobi towers to meet but his header his deflected out of the penalty box to the feet of Nicky Butt, the skipper controls but his threaded pass, in the direction of Enrique, skids away off the greasy surface for a goal kick.
49min - Alan Smith is perhaps feeling the effects of that earlier clash with Williams and is forced to retire from the action with Nicky Butt his replacement.
Boro have made a change during the interval with Marcus Bent replacing Dave Kitson. United get us started attacking the Gallowgate End.
Half-time, United lead thanks to Marlon Harewood's 16th-minute strike.
45+1min - Pogatetz sees yellow following a fracas with Ameobi.
There will be two minutes added time.
42min - First Taylor and then Coloccini get the better of Lita in quick succession with the Boro striker cutting a forlorn figure at the forefront of what has been a toothless visiting offence.
38min - Harper's downfield clearance is helped on by the head of Harewood with Ameobi making strides to collect his team-mates's flick. The Geordie striker seizes possession ahead of Wheater but, having opted for the first-time shot on the edge of the area, drags a left-footed effort well wide of the Boro target.
33min - Gary O'Neil's swerving free-kick dips at speed beyond the United wall and Steve Harper, having appeared wrong footed, does well to beat clear. The ball runs free to the feet of Osbourne who returns a stab on goal from eight yards out, Harper, though, somehow recovers to dive to the base of his post and smother with Dave Kitson snapping at the gloves of the Toon stopper.
30min - Rhys Williams is the first man in the book as his boot connects with the ankle of Alan Smith after the United skipper had beaten his midfield counterpart to a dropping ball on halfway.
25min - United have a free-kick in a near identical position to that from which they scored. Again it's Guthrie who measures up but this time he opts for the strike on goal with his right-foot curler cannoning clear off the Boro wall. The ball spins to Alan Smith, 20 yards out, and the skipper sends a first-time, left-footed effort inches wide of Brad Jones' upright with the Aussie keeper scrambling.
21min - Danny Guthrie undercooks his attempted backpass from halfway and Leroy Lita gives chase, Steve Harper, though, has read the unfolding danger and scampers from his goal-line to hack clear.
16min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (1-0): Everyone is expecting Guthrie to shoot but the midfielder flights a ball to the far post, Ameobi out-muscles McMahon and steals a header in front of keeper Brad Jones, the ball bounces free inside the six-yard area and it is Marlon Harewood who pounces to nick a real poacher's goal!
14min - The game's first corner arrives when Kevin Nolan's attempted lob clips behind off the shin of O'Neil. Guthrie's centre is cleared but only as far as Smith, the skipper looks to go by Kitson but is brought crashing to the turf by a reckless challenge from the Boro forward. Free-kick to United 25 yards out.
12min - The first real opening of note comes Boro's way as O'Neil's free-kick is flashed narrowly over the crossbar by the brow of Leroy Lita after he had peeled off Danny Simpson to leap and meet.
10min - Quite a battle is ensuing between Ameobi and Harewood and their defensive counterparts Wheater and Pogatetz; the latest instalment seeing Harewood receive treatement to an ankle injury following a clash with Wheater.
6min - A referee's whistle denies Danny Guthrie a clean run on goal after Shola Ameobi, having climbed above Emanuel Pogatetz to flick on a long, downfield punt, is adjudged to have fouled the Austrian - that looked harsh.
4min - But a United breakaway ends in disappointment as Enrique gets far too much on his left-wing cross with the ball sailing into the Leazes End.
3min - It's been a fairly tentative opening and if anything it's Boro who have enjoyed the better of the attacking territory.
Boro get us started kicking towards the Gallowgate End.
Leaden heavens have made way for bright blue skies above Gallowgate as the two sides emerge from the Milburn Stand tunnell. There are still patches of snow around the fringe of the playing surface with groundstaff having worked all morning to clear the pitch. There's a chill in the air but we're sure United's table-topping stars will be doing their bit to raise temperatures ...
CHRIS Hughton has rung the changes for this afternoon's Tyne-Tees derby with no fewer than four new faces coming in to the side from that which drew at Barnsley eight days ago.
Danny Simpson is recalled in defence with Ryan Taylor making way, Danny Guthrie replaces Fabrice Pancrate on the right-hand side of midfield, and in attack Shola Ameobi and Marlon Harewood are paired at the expense of the suspended Andy Carroll and skipper Nicky Butt.
That means United will revert to their 4-4-2 system with Kevin Nolan dropping back into the centre of midfield alongside captain Alan Smith.
NUFC: Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Danny Guthrie, Alan Smith (c), Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Shola Ameobi, Marlon Harewood
Subs: Tim Krul, Peter Lovenkrands, Ryan Taylor, Fabrice Pancrate, Nicky Butt, Tamas Kadar, Nile Ranger
MFC: Brad Jones, Justin Hoyte, Tony McMahon, David Wheater, Emanuel Pogatetz, Gary O'Neil (c), Rhys Williams, Isaiah Osbourne, Julio Arca, Leroy Lita, Dave Kitson
Subs: Danny Coyne, Chris Riggott, Mark Yeates, Marcus Bent, Jonathan Franks, Andrew Taylor, Luke Williams
Attendance: 49, 644
Referee: Kevin Friend