Alan Smith was the man of the match for Newcastle this afternoon and scored a 59th minute goal on his debut to allow Newcastle to defeat Serie A side Sampdoria at St. James Park this afternoon in front of a disappointing 23,000 fans.
Sam Allardyce â€“ who played Taylor and Rozehnal in the center of defense this afternoon will be very pleased with the clean sheet.
Smith seemed to haveÂ scored after 51 minutes but was ruled offside by the referee after replays showed he was level and the goal should have stood.
Oba Martins also should have been awardedÂ a penalty when he was brought down in the second half but again referee Marriner waved appeals away.
Once Newcastle got ahead, after Smith’s goal, they always looked in control which again must have also been satisfying for new boss Sam Allardyce.
Alan Smith – man of the match and scores only goal – didn’t we get him a new shirt?
Newcastle fielded a completely different side from the one that started against Hull City in mid-week. The side in 4-4-2- formation was as follows:
Carr Rozehnal Taylor N’Zogbia
Solano Geremi Butt Milner
Both Smith and Viduka , two ex-Leeds team mates were making their debuts and forming a two man strike-partnership up front. This combination while at Leeds scored 74 goals in 90 games, which is not too bad a scoring record. Young Charles N’Zogbia was again starting at left back after his sterling performance in the position against Carlisle United.
Nicky Butt and Steven Taylor both returned from injury sustained during the Celtic game.Â Geremi was given the captain’s armband again and was the only player in the team who also started the Hull City game.
Newcastle kicked off attacking the Leazes end in front of a rather disappointing crowd of just over 23,000.
On five minutes there was the usual confusion in Newcastle’s penalty area as both Carr and Solano went for the same ball and it fell loose to Montella who was only 14 yards from goal.Â But his shot was brilliantly saved one handed by goalkeeper Shay Given. A Sammarco strike a couple of minutes later and from 25 yards just goes wide of the post. Certainly Sampdoria were starting brightly.
On 17 minutes Stephen Carr makes a crunching but fair tackle on Zeigler as the crowd audibly wince.Â On 24 minutes Viduka is played in by Smith (from Solano) but as Mark tries to lob the goalkeeper, Mirante just managed to deflect the ball.
The tacking is getting very crisp as Delvecchio catches Butt with aÂ late tackle but the referee moves in quickly to separate the two as United are awarded a free kick.Â Milner has a half chance from the edge of the area on 37 minutes but slices the ball wide.Â On 38 minutes Shay Given is replaced by Steve Harper. This looks like a precautionary change since Shay doesn’t look too badly injured. Seems like Sam has told the players not to keep playing if they have even a slight injury since it will only make things worse – good thinking. On 41 minutes Milner gets in a good cross from the left wing and Â Viduka gets in an excellentÂ glancing header which goes just wide â€“ a good effort by Viduka.
At half time the score still stands atÂ 0-0 but the game is anything but dull and there has beenÂ a lot of heavy tackling.
Oba Martins and Shola Ameobi (also recovered from injury) are brought on in place of Mark Viduka and Nobby Solano at the start of the second half.
On 51 minutes it looked like Smith had scored when he prodded the ball home but was ruled offside. TheÂ replays showed he was level and the goal should have stood. The assitant refereesÂ nearly always give a level situation as offside – but it isn’t.Â TheÂ benefit of the doubt should go to the attacking side but the officialsÂ hardly ever give it. That’s unfortunate for Smith on his debut.
On 56 minutes Newcastle should have had a penalty as Martins moves through, puts the ball past the goalkeeper, but thenÂ looks to be brought downÂ â€“ but referee Andre Marriner waves play on.Â However, 8 minutes later â€“ on 59 minutes – Newcastle make their breakthrough with new boy Alan Smith heading home direct from another good Â Geremi corner past keeper Miante.
SmithÂ drifted into space and cleverly got clear to head the ball home nicely. Very appropriate forÂ Smith – who is already popular with the Newcastle fans – to score on his first appearance for the Magpies. On 66 minutes Peter Ramage comes on for James Milner and N’Zogbia is pushed up into midfield.
The game starts to slow downÂ as Newcastle attemptÂ to wrapÂ up the game and the win. NewcastleÂ seem surpisingly comfortable in doing so andÂ after two minutes of added time the final whistle blows to record aÂ win for the Magpies. It’s a good performance from the team with the defense looking solid and some spirited attacking with a well-taken goal from Alan Smith. Certainly a good start from the Yorkshireman. Can Sam turn Smith into a better player? Don’t bet against it. Geremi again impressed in midfield and hopefully will continue to be played there by the manager.
Taylor and Rozehnal looked a good pair and Stephen Carr also looked good. Many people think Sam can transform Stphen Carr into a good player – we hope they are right. Nâ€™Zogbia looked good in the second half after being pushed upfield after Ramage came on. Charle’s back to being an all-action player so let’s not talk about this boy leaving becasue he obviously not.
We expect Sam will be pleased by a number of elements in this game as the players are starting to look a lot better individually (improved fitness?) and functioning more as a unit. Isn’t that what good coaching brings out? James Milner was his usual lively self and looks to be improving all the time – as scary as that may seem to the opposition 😀
It’s always good to get a win to build that winning habit and mentality.Â Â It’s another good performance from the team.
Now for Bolton next week.