NEWCASTLE UNITED 2
CRYSTAL PALACE 0
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Kick off 7.45pm
Craig Hope reports from St.James' Park ...
NILE Ranger netted his first goal at St.James' Park to seal a hard-fought win over a dogged Crystal Palace and restore Newcastle United's three-point lead at the summit of the Championship.
Leading by a goal to nil entering stoppage time, The Magpies found themselves pinned deep in their own half as the visitors sought a late leveller.
But a swift counter-attack produced the killer goal and, from debutant Wayne Routledge's incisive throughball, teenager Ranger raced clear before demonstrating a maturity beyond his tender years in slotting beyond Argentine stopper Julian Speroni.
United had been gifted a first-half lead when Palace skipper Shaun Derry hooked hopelessly through his own net on 20 minutes.
The South Londoners, though, refused to lie down and were only denied an equaliser midway through the second period when Steve Harper brushed Darren Ambrose's close-range volley onto the base of the post.
It was a nervy finale for the hosts but injury-time anxieties were quelled thanks to Ranger's cool finish.
SECOND-HALF UPDATES (click refresh for latest)
That's it, full-time - 2-0 United!
90+3min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (2-0): And Nile Ranger wins it for The Magpies! Routledge is the provider as his slick throughball is latched onto by the livewire frontman and he races in on goal before cooly slotting past Speroni for his maiden home strike.
90+1min - Tempers are continuing to flare and nerves continuing to fray as United defend their slender lead - they need to be strong here.
There will be five minutes added time.
87min - United are living on their nerves here and successfully defend a corner with Palace applying late pressure in search of a leveller.
86min - Butterfield drills low on target from all of 25 yards but, despite a nervy groan from the Toon Army, Steve Harper is able to shuffle to his left and saves with relative ease.
83min - Final throw of the dice for Palace sees Alan Lee, the Irish striker, replace Nick Carle.
81min - The Magpies break at pace and Nile Ranger is presented with a golden chance to make safe the points when Fabrice Pancrate drops a cross on his head. The teenager climbs at the far post but fails to get above the delivery and nods into the lower rows of the Leazes End - hardlines.
80min - United are on the back foot here and concede a corner when Coloccini snuffs out Ambrose's teasing near-post centre. Carroll is back on defensive duty and towers to head clear - good work.
77min - Coloccini is the first United man in the book for a late chop on Andrew.
70min - Steve Harper and Tamas Kadar combine to rescue United after a defensive lapse sees Palace steal in behind the United backline. First, it's the turn of Harper to brush Ambrose's close-range volley onto the base of the post after the former United man, unmarked six yards out, had connected with Butterfield's centre. The rebound rolls to the feet of Danns but, with the trigger cocked in aim of an unguarded target, the Palace man is robbed by a sliding Kadar who preserves his side'slender advantage!
68min - Williamson does well with a double block from first Danns and then Derry, from 20 yards, with the second spinning away for a corner. Smith wins at the near post with a powerful climb to head clear.
63min - Routledge's first involvement leads to a corner which is delivered by Guthrie and flapped clear by Speroni. Smith retrieves possession and feeds Routledge on the right. The diminutive winger clips a cross in the direction of fellow new boy Williamson but Lawrence wins to clear.
58min - Things are beginning to boil over in the middle of the park and Shaun Derry almost re-arranges the face of Alan Smith with a shoulder-high boot which the Toon skipper does well to escape - this all stems from Smith's earlier challenge on Danns.
54min - Carroll seizes a loose ball midway inside the Palace half before advancing and thundering a low shot towards Speroni's target, The Italian stopper is scampering to get there and, although he fails to make the ground, the ball skids wide of the base of the post - decent effort.
50min - Smith and Danns crunch into a challenge 20 yards from the Palace goal with the visiting midfielder left in a heap on the turf. Palace have the free-kick but, before it is taken, tempers flare a little on the touchline with coaching staff from both sides involved in a heated exchange.
46min - The Magpies are immediately on the offensive and Pancrate, attacking the Leazes by-line, digs out a cross into the danger zone. Lovenkrands has worked a yard off Hill and controls before spinning to shoot from the angle of the six-yard area, The Dane, though, fires high over the crossbar and fails to find the finish to match his impressive build up.
No more changes at the break as United get us started attacking the Leazes End.
An unspectacular first half is brought to a close with United leading thanks to Shaun Derry's own goal.
There will be two minutes added time.
44min - Lovenkrands is treated before gingerely returning to the action.
42min - Pancrate drifts infield from the right unchallenged and suddenly the target opens up for a strike, The Frenchman sets himself before dragging low across the face of goal from 20 yards. Lovenkrands and then Carroll both try in vain to turn on goal with the Dane ending up in a heap clutching his ankle on the edge of the six-yard area.
38min - Andrew's cross-cum-shot spirals up off the boot of Pancrate and loops dangerously towards the United target. Steve Harper, backpedalling furiously, manages to recover in the nick of time and slaps the ball over his crossbar - good save. The Toon stopper then comes to fist clear from Danns' centre.
36min - Lovenkrands is sprung clear on halfway by Carroll but the Dane is quickly swamped by recovering Palace shirts and the chance is gone.
32min - Steve Harper thunders a long ball downfield, Andy Carroll strides to connect and the route-one approach almost reaps an unlikely reward as the Geordie's header, from just inside the area, is clasped by what looked like a slightly panicked Speroni.
28min - Darren Ambrose bends a 30-yard free-kick on target but the ambitious effort is seized with ease by Steve Harper.
26min - Jose Enrique limps from the action and is replaced by Fabrice Pancrate - who will slot in at right-back - with Tamas Kadar switching to the opposite flank.
20min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (1-0): And from that flag-kick, flighted in by Guthrie, Carroll heads towards goal only for Shaun Derry to inexplicably slice into his own net from two yards out - the visiting skipper is left crestfallen inside the six-yard area.
19min - Gutierrez's left-wing centre causes momentary panic in the visiting backline as a nervy Hills hooks for a throw-in when really the defender had time to gather and clear upfield. Guthrie crosses from the right with Hill heading away for a corner at the near post.
13min- Palace have a gilt-edged chance of their own at the other end, Carle whipping a left-wing cross onto the brow of Butterfield, six yards out, only for the former Grimsby man to flash wide with the goal gaping - that was some miss.
10min - Gutierrez and Enrique combine to prise open the Palace backline with the latter bursting down the left flank. Lovenkrands has kept pace with the Spaniard and is duly picked out with an incisive delivery. The Dane, steaming into the six-yard area, has an open goal to aim at but with an out-stretched right boot can only poke wide much to the despair of the home crowd and an animated Chris Hughton on the Milburn Stand touchline.
7min - Williamson's wedged forward ball finds Carroll and the frontman looks as if he could be in on goal. Palace have numbers scamopering back into position, however, and the Geordie is forced to check his forward advances before switching play to Gutierrez. The Agrentine gathers a bouncing ball before releasing a half volley from 20 yards which drags wide of Speroni's goal.
6min - Palace, with just three subs, are forced into an early change as Johannes Ertl is replaced by Matt Lawrence.
4min - Ambrose charges at a retreating United backline and slips a neat pass between shirts for Andrew to chase. The rangey frontman gallops through on goal but, when he tries to nick by the fast closing Steve Harper, the Toon stopper spreads his frame to steal possession and rescues his side.
1min - Coloccini gifts possession to Butterfield, 25 yards out, but the Palace wideman fails to find any notion of composure and slices erratically wide.
We're underway at Gallowgate with United defending the Leazes End.
Mike Williamson takes to the field for the first time alongside his new team-mates as the familiar sound of Local Hero greets the sides on their emergence from the Milburn Stand tunnel.
NEWCASTLE United new boy Mike Williamson is thrown straight into the starting line-up for the visit of The Eagles, but fellow signing Wayne Routledge must settle for a place on the bench against his former club.
Palace are without star striker Victor Moses after the club's administrators withdrew their prize asset from the squad and are able to name just three substitutes.
NUFC: Steve Harper, Tamas Kadar, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Jose Enrique, Danny Guthrie, Alan Smith (c), Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Peter Lovenkrands, Andy Carroll
Subs: Tim Krul, Ben Tozer, Nicky Butt, Fabrice Pancrate, Nile Ranger, Wayne Routledge, Ryan Donaldson
CPFC: Julian Speroni, Nathaniel Clyne, Jonhannes Ertl, Danny Butterfield, Clint Hill, Neil Danns, Shaun Derry (c), Nick Carle, Darren Ambrose, Calvin Andrew, Lee Hills
Subs: Matt Lawrence, Alan Lee, Kieran Djilali
Referee: Russell Booth
Attendance: 37, 886