NEWCASTLE UNITED 2
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Kick off 8pm
Craig Hope reports from Madejski Stadium ...
KEVIN Nolan struck twice to send Newcastle United to within one point of the Championship title following Tuesday's 2-1 win at Reading.
The Magpies are now nine points clear of second-placed West Brom who have just three games left to play.
This latest victory, United's fifth on the bounce, was achieved thanks to Nolan's first-half double which took his tally for the season to 18.
The opener arrived on 20 minutes when he collected Steve Harper's long, downfield punt before spinning in the area and firing through the arms of Adam Federici from eight yards.
Nolan then had to chance to make the matchball his own but his six-yard header struck the post on 52 minutes.
Reading did, though, halve the deficit 20 minutes from time when Jose Enrique attempted to clear only for the ball to cannon off the back of the unsuspecting Danny Simpson and loop into the visiting net.
A late flurry of home pressure was withstood by Chris Hughton's men as they held on to move within touching distance of the second-tier crown.
SECOND-HALF UPDATES (click refresh for latest)
Full-time: United move to within a point of the title!
90+4min - Gutierrez slides infield from the left with Reading having thrown bodies forward and space opens up for the Argentine to shoot on goal. The winger directs a measured curler towards the bottom corner and is unfortunate when his effort beats Ferderici but also evades the base of the post.
90+1min - Kevin Nolan has a half chance to make that matchball his own but lashes wildly into the Geordie fans behind the goal having latched onto a straight punt downfield inside the area - to be fair, the angle was against the Toon man,
86min - Reading have a corner on the right which Howard takes in-swinging. Harper punches at his near post and it's Shola Ameobi, back on defensive duty, who completes the clearance from the penalty spot.
85min - Gunnarsson leaves the field on a stretcher and won't be returning - Reading are down to ten men for these final five minutes.
83min - Bryn Gunnarsson takes what looks like a nasty whack to the face as he dives to connect at the near post and the Icelandic defender is going to require treatment.
82min - Kebe looks to thread Church clear but Williamson reads and slides to hook away for a corner.
80min - Reading are making their final change with Shane Long replaced by Grzegorz Rasiak.
78min - Shola Ameobi is booked for a foul on halfway. Can United hold out?
70min - READING GOAL (1-2): Brian Howard's deep free-kick is turned on goal by the head of Simon Church, climbing amid bodies six yards out. The ball drops on the goal-line where Jose Enrique attempts to blast clear. But, in doing so, the Spaniard smashes into the back of an unsuspecting Danny Simpson with the ball looping back into the United goal - visiting faces look at one another in search of an explanation but, if we're being honest, it was simply a freak own goal.
68min - Shola Ameobi shields possession 30 yards out before rolling a pass into the path of Wayne Routledge supporting to his right. The winger drives into the area and is unlucky when a 15-yard strike deflects up off the leg of a sliding Pearce and lands on the roof of the Reading goal. Nothing comes of Guthrie's flag-kick.
65min - There's a bit of needle starting to creep into this game with a string of whole-hearted challenges exchanged in the middle of the park.
63min - Ryan Taylor is the latest player to see yellow for a show of petulance as he, too, kicks the ball away following the award of an opposition free-kick.
60min - And Tabb is subsequently substituted with Simon Chruch his replacement.
59min - Jay Tabb slams the ball to the turf in protest at the award of a United free-kick and duly enters the book.
55min - Smith throws his body on the line to block from Sigurdsson after Williamson's attempted clearance had ran to the feet of the Icelandic forward on the edge of the area.
52min - Wayne Routledge stands a flighted cross to the far post where Kevin Nolan is arriving to connect. The hat-trick hungry Scouser turns a first-time header on goal only for the ball to strike the base of the post before spinning onto the line where it is cleared by Alex Pearce.
46min - United have been forced into a half-time reshuffle by the looks of the things and Danny Simpson has moved into the centre of the defence.
Half-time: United lead thanks to Kevin Nolan's double strike.
There will be two minutes added time.
42min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (0-2): Danny Guthrie carries towards a backpedalling Reading backline and slips a short pass to the overlapping Routledge to his right. The winger drives towards the by-line before cutting a knee-high ball across the face of goal where Kevin Nolan does well to adjust his body and turn home for his, and United's, second.
40min - Jonas Gutierrez gets the better of Andy Griffin on the left and surges away from the former Toon man and into the area. He tries to pick out Kevin Nolan, umarked on the penalty spot, with a low draw back but Pearce reads his intentions and intervenes at the expense of a corner. Guthrie's delivery is only half cleared but United fail to cultivate anything of note from the loose ball and the danger subsides.
35min - Reading are pressing for a reply and Jimmy Kebe serves up another right-wing teaser only for Ryan Taylor to again arrive and snuff out the danger with a clearance on the edge of the six-yard area.
31min - Ryan Taylor takes no chances when Jimmy Kebe's right-wing centre finds its way through to the far post and, with his back to the arriving home jerseys, he chests away for a corner. Howard lifts high into the area but United have enough bodies back in attendance to force clear with Alan Smith the man ultimately swiping to safety.
26min - Shane Long directs an acrobatic overhead kick on target from just inside the area but Steve Harper is well positioned to watch the effort through the entirity of its journey towards goal and saves with ease - inventive stuff from the Irishman, however.
24min - United break upfield at lightening speed through Danny Guthrie. The midfielder delays his pass before threading through the retreating Royals backline for Wayne Routledge to chase. The winger wins his race with the on-rushing Ferderici but is unlucky when a low toe-poke rolls narrowly wide of the far upright - that was so close.
20min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (0-1): Steve Harper's long thump downfield carries through to Kevin Nolan with his back to goal some 12 yards out. The midfielder manages to roll the challenge of Pearce before smashing left-footed through the arms of Adam Ferderici for his 17th of the season - super finish from the Liverpudlian to move him back level with Andy Carroll at the top of the scoring charts.
15min - United's first attacking foray sees Routledge nick in from the right only for his through slip to carry too much weight for Nolan with the pass running through to Ferderici in the Royals goal.
10min - Adam Ferderici's direct punt bounces through into the United penalty area with Shane Long giving chase. Steve Harper has raced from his line in a bid to intercept but the Irish forward wins the race with both the Toon stopper and Fabricio Coloccini. Long heads the ball in-between the visiting pair but, with the angle against him, draws a half-volley across the face of the empty goal - it would have taken some accuracy to score from there - nonetheless, it's a let-off for United.
8min - Kevin Nolan is booked for throwing the ball away in protest at the award of a Reading free-kick on halfway.
5min - Andy Griffin's enterprising through ball gets Kebe away down the right. The winger has Coloccini for company and the Argentine slides to block the cross at the expense of a corner. Howard drifts a delivery to the edge of the six-yard area but Steve Harper eradicates the danger with a powerful fist to clear the penalty box.
Reading get us started attacking the end where the 4,000-strong travelling Toon Army are situated.
United are dressed in their yellow change kit and Reading in their traditional blue-and-white hoops as the teams emerge from the tunnel beneath us.
CHRIS Hughton makes three changes to the side which won at home to Blackpool on Saturday.
That means Kevin Nolan is likely to play in a deep-lying forward role off Ameobi.
Jose Enrique returns to the bench having missed the weekend win because of illness.
RFC: Adam Federici, Andy Griffin, Bryn Gunnarsson, Alex Pearce, Ryan Bertrand, Jay Tabb, Bryan Howard (c), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jimmy Kebe, Jobi McAnuff, Shane Long
Subs: Kalifa Cisse, James Henry, Simon Church, Hal Robson-Kanu, Jem Karacan, Ben Hamer, Grzegorz Rasiak
NUFC: Steve Harper, Ryan Taylor, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Simpson, Wayne Routledge, Alan Smith (c), Jonas Gutierrez, Kevin Nolan, Shola Ameobi
Subs: Tim Krul, Joey Barton, Leon Best, Jose Enrique, Andy Carroll, Peter Lovenkrands, Fabrice Pancrate
Referee: Fred Graham
Attendance: 23, 163