Half time: Swans 0 Magpies 0
was a difficult game for Andy and the service could have been better. He put in
a shift for the team and he would have been hoping for that one chance. I was
delighted for him.
56 mins Pratley's pass was dummied by Dyer for David Cotterill to shoot beyond
Steve Harper 0-1
87 mins Leon Best found space down the United right and stood up a cross to
the far post for Andy Carroll to head home powerfully in front of the
travelling support 1-1
"'With what's gone on, we've seen no change in Andy this week
(Carroll was charged with assault on Monday following an incident in a
Newcastle nightclub in December). I was happy he was ready to play here. He's
too big to put his arm around but, of course, you speak to him about where his
game can improve."
travellers who trekked to witness Newcastle's first-ever visit to the Liberty Stadium
were greeted by a cast of former Magpie Ivor Allchurch outside (see above) - and a
similarly statuesque display from his 2010 contemporaries inside.
For most of this Saturday lunchtime affair played in front of barely 15,000
fans and the TV cameras, United failed to threaten a Swans defence who had
posted three clean sheets and not conceded a goal at home in four games.
The home side had made the most of their few chances, taking a 56th minute lead
when Welsh international David Cotterill cut in from the City left to curl his
shot beyond the helpless Steve Harper.
However with a second away reverse in five days looming large, substitute Leon
Best found space down the right to flick a centre across to the back post,
where Andy Carroll converted with a towering header to salvage a draw.
With West Brom otherwise employed in the FA Cup, the point was enough to
restore us to top spot in the table - news of a 0-1 defeat for Nottingham
Forest at Doncaster later in the afternoon raising spirits further of those who
made the long trek (although hardly recompense for those who had to leave on 85
minutes to get the last train....)
Much pre-match hot air had been expelled about repaying the fans for the
misfiring display at Pride Park in midweek, but if anything our performance
against the Swans was even less cohesive, with City goalkeeper Dorus De Vries a
spectator until he picked the ball out of his net late on.
Games at this venue have been low-scoring affairs and after the defensive
slip-ups that contributed to our biggest reverse of the season in midweek, a
more safety- first policy was rightly pursued by Chris Hughton. However that
fails to excuse a lack of movement and purpose from Newcastle that resulted in
a constant stream of misplaced passes and players frequently being caught in
possession, as they vainly sought an outlet.
Both sides largely cancelled each other out in the first half, with Harper
untested and Kevin Nolan heading well wide when picked out by Coloccini's
dinked forward pass. Partnered this time by Peter Lovenkrands, striker
Andy Carroll won his share of aerial contests but none of his colleagues were
able to link up with him - and when he went for goal himself, a soft header
seconds before the break was easily collected by De Vries.
The home side looked to step up their efforts after the break and Nathan Dyer
shot just past the post from distance before getting in the way of Darren
Pratley, when his colleague was poised to test Harper from 15 yards. Dyer did
atone for that error though, starting the move from which Swansea scored as he
brought the ball out of defence and then dummying Danny Simpson to allow
goalscorer Cotterill space to pick his spot and shoot home.
Neither side then created a real chance for a winner in the remaining moments,
although Swansea moaned afterwards that Andy Carroll should have walked moments
before his goal for an elbow on defender Garry Monk, for which the Newcastle
player was yellow-carded.
From going to the likes of Sheffield United and Preston and "winning
ugly", this unattractive draw was no less welcome, ahead of two successive
home games against sides who aren't among the division's greatest travellers.
Aside from a first away goal in three league games though, there was precious
little to get excited about here - with Guthrie again shoehorned into left
midfield, Nolan and Smith trundling back and forth and a collective inability
to retain possession. Only one side played football here and to claim that we
battled on to the end isn't a reflection of our thoroughly uninspiring
Final word to match mascot Cameron Evans (an 11 year-old Magpies follower from
Neath) who summed things up nicely in his programme profile for the match: "his hobbies are
football and Newcastle United."
Wisdom beyond his years, that lad.