NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 CITY 1
FA Barclays Premiership
31st March 2007
Ref Graham Pole
City Isaksson, Distin, Dunne, Sun, Onuoha, Barton, Hamann, Johnson, Ball, Vassell, Mpenza – Subs Miller(unused), Trabelsi(85), Weaver(unused), Samaras(45), Corradi(unused)
Newcastle Given, Carr, Moore, Taylor, Babayaro, Salano, Butt, Parker, Duff, Dyer, Martin – subs Onyewu(73), Milner(76), Sibierski(77),Harper(unused), Emre(unused)
EMILE MPENZA GRABS ALL THREE POINTS FOR THE BLUES
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
STUART PEARCE looks to have made has job safe with a second successive North East victory, but plunged Glenn Roeder and Newcastle United into crisis.
Belgian Emile Mpenza, the lone striker in a defensive 4-5-1 City formation, followed up his first goal for Pearce’s side in the 2-0 win at Middlesbrough with a superbly taken winner on 80 minutes to floor the Magpies. And, although Newcastle are all but safe from relegation with 37 points in the bag. that sparked an angry response from the frustrated foot soldiers of the Toon Army, who have seen their side take one point from the last 12 and go 380 minutes without scoring.
Lacklustre Newcastle were booed off. both at half-time and full-time, and Roeder’s decision to take off crowd favourite Nobby Solano in the second period was greeted with howls of derision. Toon chairman Freddy Shepherd was the target of the fans wrath at the final whistle with chants of “Sack the Board” and “Shepherd Out” echoing around the ground for the first time since the last home league defeat to Sheffield United on November 4, a run of nine unbeaten Premiership games at St James` Park.
But with European football now nothing more than a pipe dream, it is Roeder who is very much under pressure. He said: “For the first time in a long while, the fans weren’t helpful. “It’s frustrating for them. There are high expectations here. “They don’t understand how difficult it is to break down teams that are set up so defensively.
City scored with their only chance of the game. But it was disappointing we couldnt get an equaliser with our pressure in the last ten minutes.”
Pearce, however, insists that City’s fifth away win of a disappointing campaign guarantees nothing. He said: “I said a month ago that it is going to be tight right to the end of the season. It is going to go to the wire. Any three teams from eight can go down. We are one of them and Newcastle aren’t out of it yet. We are now only a point behind them. I feel we didn’t deserve to lose. They didn’t trouble us until the last six or seven minutes and when our chance came Mpenza took it superbly. He has given us a chance.”
The first half had a decidedly end of season feeling. with Newcastle disjointed, and City only threatening on the break. Roeder had warned his squad they were playing for their futures: but you wouldn’ t have guessed it.
Newcastle went into the game having not scored for 290 minutes, and there were few first-half chances against a defence well marshalled by Sylvain Distin and Richard Dunne.
City produced the one moment of genuine first-half inspiration when Mpenza rattled the angle of bar and post with a 20 yard drive. But they were forced to reshuffle at half-time with Dietmar Hamann unable to continue after an ankle injury and he was replaced by Greek striker Georgios Samaras.
Obafemi Martins scorned a great chance to put Newcastle ahead after being played in by Damien Duff before Mpenza grabbed the winner, Michael Johnson linked up with Joey Barton and Mpenza produced a great touch before sweeping the ball home.
BRIAN MCNALLY WRITING FOR THE SUNDAY MIRROR