MATCH REPORTS

Hammers Hold On

Stephen Carr is Tackled by Konchesky

Konchesky sent off 55m

Gary Oliver reports from St. James' Park

NEWCASTLE United were forced to settle for a goalless draw against ten-man West Ham United in their opening home game of the 2005/06 Premiership campaign.

Hammers' full-back Paul Konchesky was dismissed 10 minutes into the second half after referee Dermot Gallagher ruled his challenge on Jermaine Jenas to be a professional foul on the edge of the visitors' penalty area.

But despite enjoying the bulk of possession against the Londoners, Newcastle couldn't turn their numerical advantage into goals, much to the frustration of the majority of the St. James' Park crowd.

With Kieron Dyer and Emre both ruled out through injury, Magpies boss Graeme Souness called up James Milner and Charles N'Zogbia into his starting XI.

Lee Clark was involved for the first time since his return to the club, taking up a place on the bench. His last appearance in a black and white shirt came back in May 1997 when the Magpies beat Nottingham Forest 5-0 to book a place in the Champions League.

There was a familiar face on the West Ham bench as well, with former Newcastle goalkeeper Shaka Hislop named as back-up to Roy Carroll after returning to Upton Park from Portsmouth in the summer.

Newcastle began the game attacking the Leazes End with blue skies and bright sunshine over St. James', but after a largely uneventful opening it was West Ham who forced the first corner of the game in the 14th minute when Celestine Babayaro deflected Tomas Repka's right-wing cross behind. After a brief skirmish in the Magpies' penalty area the danger was cleared.

That stirred the Magpies and Lee Bowyer almost got a sight of goal when he knocked Jermaine Jenas' forward pass beyond keeper Roy Carroll only for Danny Gabbidon to clear.

Charles N'Zogbia was next to come close in the 19th minute when he received a pass from Babayaro and drove forward into the visiting penalty area only for his shot to be saved by Carroll. The Northern Ireland shotstopper was called upon again seconds later to thwart Jermaine Jenas with a low one-handed stop.

But Newcastle were indebted to Shay Given in the 23rd minute when, after Teddy Sheringham had played in Yossi Benayoun, the Republic star blocked his sidefoot finish and Babayaro mopped up to clear the loose ball.

More chances were starting to come and Jenas then missed an opportunity to break the deadlock, heading over from seven yards after being picked out by Stephen Carr's right-wing cross in the 24th minute.

With the half-hour mark approaching, Bowyer thought he had a strong claim for a penalty when, after working space to shoot inside the 18-yard box, he was tackled from behind by Paul Konchesky. Referee Gallagher, however, ruled the challenge to be perfectly legal despite the midfielder's protests.

The Magpies were trying to build up a head of steam by this stage, but there was a scare four minutes before the interval when Given's attempted clearance cannoned into Marlon Harewood. Fortunately for Newcastle, he was quickly crowded out as he tried to control the loose ball.

The second-half was only three minutes underway when West Ham's veteran striker Teddy Sheringham was withdrawn, with Shaun Newton taking over.

Referee Gallagher had enjoyed an incident-free afternoon in the opening period, but that all changed in the 55th minute when he angered the visitors by sending off Konchesky.

The former Charlton defender was red-carded for a foul on Jenas as the Magpies midfielder took a pass from James Milner and raced towards the West Ham penalty area. Konchesky was last man when he made the challenge, which Gallagher classed as a professional foul after consulting with his assistant on the Milburn Stand touchline.

When the game restarted with a free-kick to Newcastle, skipper Shearer saw his low drive saved by Carroll.

The Magpies were now hoping to make the extra man count, and there were huge cheers in the 63rd minute when Geordie midfielder Clark was summoned from the bench to replace N'Zogbia.

The hosts almost broke the deadlock in the 67th minute when Babayaro played a ball into Clark and his cross-shot was pushed away by Carroll before Gabbidon cleared at the expense of a corner. When Milner swung over the flag-kick, it was cleared only as far as Bowyer whose dipping half-volley was tipped over by the Hammers' keeper.

West Ham by this stage were spending a lot of time on the back foot and relying upon the occasional break upfield. One such foray in the 71st minute was halted when Jenas brought down Harewood, producing a booking for the England international. 

There were eleven minutes remaining when Hammers boss Alan Pardew sent on an extra defender in Christian Dailly and withdrew Benayoun.

As the clock ticked down, Newcastle continued to strive for a breakthrough. It almost arrived in the 89th minute when a low Jenas cross found its way to Steven Taylor, but rather than shoot himself, he opted to pass to Shearer and the Hammers were able to clear the danger.

West Ham sent on Bobby Zamora in the dying seconds for Harewood, who had just been booked for a foul on Scott Parker. With 90 minutes almost up, Anton Ferdinand was alert to clear a Carr cross, while at the other end, Taylor enhanced his claims as Newcastle's man-of-the-match with a timely tackle on Nigel Reo-Coker.

Deep into injury-time Parker missed out on the chance of a matchwinning goal on his debut when he fired over at the Gallowgate End after meeting Milner's left-wing cross on the run. It was the last noteworthy chance of the game and left the Magpies still awaiting their first Premiership goal of the new campaign.

TEAMS

Newcastle United: Shay Given, Stephen Carr, Jean Alain Boumsong, Steven Taylor, Celestine Babayaro, Charles N'Zogbia (Lee Clark 63m), Lee Bowyer, Scott Parker, Jermaine Jenas, James Milner, Alan Shearer
Subs: Robbie Elliott, Steve Harper, Amady Faye, Martin Brittain

West Ham United: Roy Carroll, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Tomas Repka, Danny Gabbidon, Matthew Etherington, Yousi Benayoun (Christian Dailly 79m), Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Teddy Sheringham (Shaun Newton 49m), Marlon Harewood (Bobby Zamora 89m)
Subs: Mark Noble, Shaka Hislop

Referee: Dermot Gallagher
Attendance: 51,620

 

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