Kieron Dyer's second Premiership goal of the year and first away in the
league since February 2003 had given us an early lead, the midfielder latching on
to Robert's through ball and beating 'keeper Friedel in a one-on-one, firing
home an angled low drive from 18 yards at the Blackburn End.
25mins: A year to the day that he'd netted against us for Leicester, Paul
Dickov took advantage of some woeful defending by United to level.
Dickov was fouled by O'Brien outside
our box and when Ferguson stepped up to take a quick free kick, he simply
knocked it through to his fellow Scot, who had wandered forward totally unmarked
and had the easiest of tasks to beat Given, as our defence hibernated.
38mins: Flitcroft was yellow-carded for upending Dyer some thirty five yards from goal. Up stepped Robert to bend a powerful free around the Rovers defensive
wall, dropping into the nearside corner of the goal - Friedel caught out of
position preparing to defend the top corner of the goal to his right, only to
see the ball end up low to his left as he scrambled across in vain. 2-1
Half time: Rovers 1
61mins: Twice in the previous three minutes the ball had been loose in the Newcastle
area, as every forward ball by Rovers caused consternation in our backline.
Andy O'Brien had blocked one effort and cleared another, but when Robert fouled
Stead and Neill sent the free kick in from the right flank, David Thompson shot
at goal from 25 yards.
Given was equal to that one, but crucially palmed the ball back into the centre
of his box, from where Andy Todd reacted first to scoop the ball home,
with Dickov on hand in case the defender didn't connect. 2-2
Full time: Rovers
2 United 2
Graeme Souness said:
"We've played against an aggressive and
positive team and we've matched them for most of the game.
"In the early part of the second half we
were penned in but when we regrouped we didn't have too many problems. We
are in a difficult period and we need everyone to stick together and pull in
the same direction."
"When I was a
player at Liverpool when the ball went dead and we were in possession, we
would say - look for the dope - We knew that there would always be a dope
"It is a
crime when you turn your back on the play, when you knock off or when you
try to take a breather. At this level you get punished. We were punished. It
was a poor goal to concede. Some of the players turned their backs. That is
"It was the
same old story from us. We got in front and were looking to build on the
lead and then we conceded a poor goal which allowed them back into the game.
wonderful free-kick got us back in front but, yet again, our defending
wasn't great for the second equaliser.
"At the start
of the second half they were well on top but we weathered the storm and made
changes which made us more solid and less vulnerable.
Robert had a hand in the goal - a great pass - and scored a goal. We know
that he can do these things when we are bossing games.
"My beef with
him is when we are not bossing games, when it's all hands to the pumps, as
it was at the start of the second half.
"It is then
when we don't always see eye to eye. But we cannot diminish the influence he
had on this game.
"You want your midfield players to score goals and he (Dyer) is an
attacking midfield player.
spoken about it and I would like to see him get among the goals more often.
With our system he has a licence to go forward. I have to say it was a
really good goal. A superb pass and a wonderful finish.
"We have to
be happy with the result. It was a difficult game. Blackburn are physical
and positive in their approach"
"I can have no complaints about the reception from the supporters. I
have been around a long time and I knew what to expect, but I had four good
years here and it was nice to come back, regardless of the reception I
Under-fire Laurent Robert told the Chronicle:
"I made one good pass to Kieron and I scored one goal and I am
"I think this proved that
I want to play for Newcastle and perhaps this is a new chance for me. I
respect the manager and I hope he will give me my chance again in the
"We played a bit
defensively in the second half and I did not get too much of the ball. But I
was happy at the way things went in the first half and I think the fans
appreciated what I did."
"I have taken better
free-kicks but I always fancy my chances from any dead ball situation."
Mark Hughes commented:
"We had to come back twice again
- we had to delve deep into our stamina and determination, so it is
great credit to the lads.
"In the second half I thought
we were really good, we really drove the game and took it took them
and I felt that if anyone was going to win it, it was certainly going
to be us.
"But I'm a little bit
disappointed that the final whistle went when it did, in all honesty.
Obviously, they had to change the referee and it took an age to get
the other guy back on.
"I think they got the timings
wrong and something needs to be said about it because there is no way
we played the full allocation of time.
"There's nothing we can do
about it now, but it highlights that they need to be up to speed.
"We finish games strongly, we
are a strong, determined side and towards the end of games we'll drive
the game, so in the last period, going into extra time, that's when we
feel we can capitalise on teams and we've been denied that.
"We came back and credit to
the lads, they showed great determination to get back into the game.
It would have been nice to win, though, because I thought we deserved
37 goals conceded this season in 19
games - it was 40 in 38 last season.
4th consecutive Premiership game in which we've taken the lead, but failed
to go on and win the game.
Ewood - Premiership Years
2004/05: Drew 2-2 Dyer, Robert
2003/04: Drew 1-1 Bellamy
2002/03: Lost 2-5 Shearer 2
2001/02: Drew 2-2 Shearer 2
2000/01: Lost 0-3
1999/00: Won 2-1 Shearer 2 (FAC)
1998/99: Won 1-0 Saha (FAC)
1998/99: Drew 0-0
1997/98: Lost 0-1
1996/97: Lost 0-1
1995/96: Lost 1-2 Batty
1994/95: Lost 0-1
1993/94: Won 2-1 Hottiger, Clark (FAC)
1993/94: Lost 0-1
Our final away game of
2004 saw us start reasonably well, only to fall apart and end up a confused, rag
bag of a side barely worthy of the term "team."
Ahead again, we proved unable to defend a lead not
once but twice - the method of delivery for both home goals coming
as no surprise, as we had conceded free kicks within striking distance of our
goal at an alarming rate all afternoon.
But 2-1 ahead with a reasonable first half behind us and a second 45 attacking
the vocal toon end, there was at least some ground for optimism amongst the
black and whites that a corner had been turned in this increasingly moribund
However, that again proved unfounded as we played second fiddle to Rovers and
reshuffled or defence twice to try and plug the all-too evident holes that
But while it's tempting to write that the Newcastle attack did its job and the
defence screwed things up, that's very far from the reality over the whole
Chief culprits were Dyer, Robert and Ameobi, although Bellamy was also largely
anonymous, until he popped up in the closing stages to stab his effort wide.
Kluivert had failed to
reappear after half time (hamstring apparently) and his replacement Ameobi
wandered aimlessly around up front, as both Milner and Dyer struggled to get
into the game and Jenas proved incapable of finding a team mate with a pass -
any sort of pass.....
Net result? The ball came back again and again towards our area.
Robert had given us an industrious first half, with an assist, a goal and a
couple of interventions, but rested on his laurels in the second period, basking
in the adulation of the crowd. Had we had a viable alternative on the bench,
Souness would surely have taken him off - and to blazes with the reaction of the
No, our attacking options
were non-existent and the defence were left as exposed as at any time this
season - no matter what level of fitness Shearer currently has, he
would have been an asset here today for his presence alone and the ability to
hold the ball while we cleared our lines. None of the players on view today can
do that - Kluivert possibly could, but his Diva status seems to preclude
tackling, being tackled or competing for 50/50 balls - hardly the actions of a
great centre forward.
Once back at 2-2, neither side did enough to force a winner, with a belated rally from
Newcastle floundering twice on the edge of the area as Jenas inexplicably
back-heeled the ball and lost possession.
The final moments of the game were completed under the watchful eye of fourth
official Uriah Rennie, who took over whistling duties from the injured Matt
However, even though it was the second anniversary of his infamous display at
Bolton, Rennie didn't get the opportunity to heap further misery on United or
Souness in the remaining minutes - perhaps it was a good thing after all though
that Shearer wasn't on the field.....
So, four draws and two defeats from our last six games in all competitions - and
only two wins in 12 Premiership games.
The last time we shared four goals at Ewood, we celebrated qualification for the
Champions League, but December 2004 is a world away from the carefree days of
Fans, manager and media alike all eagerly await the turn of the year for the
promised arrivals and departures, but it's hard to see who will be tempted by
our discards - while the Ewood cupboard looks equally bare and none of the
Rovers players on show today enhanced their chances of a relocation to the North
East in 2005......
Two well-taken goals apart, we verged on the shambolic again today - but not
against a team in form or one of the big boys. Instead we looked no better than a struggling Rovers side - the ghosts of
Souness past and Souness present.
For the Manager, there's no let-up in pressure, the first open signs of dissent
coming from Newcastle fans today - a more tangible threat to him than text
messages and punters panelists.
Precisely what form of torture awaits us at the hands of Wenger and Co. on home
soil this Wednesday remains to be seen, but a repeat of the fitful and
circumspect contributions from some quarters today will result only in another
The concept of playing for 90 minutes seems to be an alien one to our midfield
and attack - at least Kluivert had the excuse of not being on the field, but for
Dyer and Robert it was a case of missing persons in the second 45.
And in defence, looking liable to buckle at the slightest hint of pressure from
an Arsenal reject like Dickov doesn't engender confidence that we'll deal with
the real thing, even putting aside the multiple changes in personnel and
position in our back four today, which did little to solidify things.
It's exactly a year since Freddy Shepherd was quoted as having said:
"What has happened since the start of the season is just not on.
"It's not acceptable to the directors and board of Newcastle United or to
our supporters and we're not going to put up with it.
"I'm talking about everyone here from the manager downwards.
"The management and players of this football club are given Rolls-Royce
treatment but we're not getting Rolls-Royce performances from them in
At that point we were in 6th spot, with 26 points. A year on and it's 14th
with 22 points but a game more played.
What the Chairman thinks about that isn't known. Yet.