At half time between Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United at the JJB stadium, the scores are level at 0-0 and there have been very few chances in the first half to either side.
Both defenses look very comfortable and if Newcastle are going to win this game they will need to raise their game in the final 45 minutes. The good news for Newcastle fans is that the Magpies have kept a clean sheet, and have looked a tidy side in the first half against second-bottom Wigan Athletic.
Sam Allardcye made a full 5 changes to the side that only drew with bottom-placed Derby County on Sunday and had both Taylor and Faye starting in central defense at the expense of Cacapa and Rozehnal. Emre and Geremi both started in central midfield, replacing Butt and Barton who had started on Sunday. Damien Duff also made his first start of the season after recovering from a serious ankle injury to take his place on the left wing.
It looked like Newcastle were playing 4-4-2 with Smith and Viduka up front as they played for Leeds United a few years back.
The first half was devoid of many chances, but Damien Duff was being brought into game often on his return to the side but both defenses l0ooked on top. The game is delicately balanced and Newcastle will need an up-tick in their tempo to win this game. But that’s what we expect in the second half.
Wigan Athletic: Chris Kirkland, Mario Melchiot, Paul Scharner, Titus Bramble, Kevin Kilbane, Antonio Valencia, Denny Landzaat, Michael Brown, Ryan Taylor, Marcus Bent, Antoine Sibierski
Subs: Mike Pollitt, Emmerson Boyce, Salomon Olembe, Josip Skoko, Julius Aghahowa
Newcastle United: Shay Given, Habib Beye, Charles N’Zogbia, Steven Taylor, Abdoulaye Faye, Geremi, Emre, Alan Smith, Damien Duff, James Milner, Mark Viduka
Subs: Jose Enrique, Claudio Cacapa, Oba Martins, Steve Harper, Nicky Butt
Referee: Mike Dean
Here is the SKY SPORTS minute by minute commentary on the game during the first half.
47 – Last chance: Ryan Taylor with a free-kick but it is easily cleared by Faye.
46 – Off-side: Geremi lifts the ball over the top to Duff, but just as it seems we may have a clear-cut chance he is given off-side. The decision is correct, but the game needs a chance.
Two minutes of stoppage time to be played.
45 – Battle: Sibierski attempts to steal the ball inside the box, but Taylor is once again in his way.
43 – Wild: Landzaat with a shot from the edge of the area, but it is awful and flies high and wide.
41 – Long-throw: Ryan Taylor delivers into the box, but Sibierski is surrounded by defenders are hardly gets off the floor as he attempts to win the ball.
39 – Missed: Steven Taylor takes a wide swing at a clearance, misses the ball but is saved by Faye as Bent chased the loose ball.
37 – Good defending: Difficult bouncing ball for Bramble to deal with, but he calmly heads it back to Kirkland under pressure from Viduka.
35 – Free-kick: Emre with a promising opportunity 25-yards out in the middle of the goal, but his effort hits the wall. Disappointing strike.
Both defences are holding up well so far and any danger is swiftly dealt with.
Booking: Brown cautioned for a rash challenge on Emre.
30 – Mistake: Kilbane with a good run down the left and his cross into the box is headed up in the air by Faye with no-one anywhere near him. Given comes and claims to end the danger.
29 – Waste: Both sides are lumping long balls forward but their front-men are not able to hold the ball up well enough.
28 – Good head: Sibierski rises well to flick the ball towards Bent inside the box, but he gets too much on the ball and it loops harmlessly into the hands of Given.
26 – Safety: Wigan put Newcastle under a bit of pressure and N’Zogbia is forced to just hammer the ball clear. Newcastle haven’t seen much of the ball in the last few minutes.
24 – Poor: Duff lays the ball across to Geremi 20-yards out, but he takes his eye off the pass and it rolls under his foot.
23 – Distance: Valencia with a well struck effort from 20-yards which hammers into the head of Faye and goes up in the sky. N’Zogbia manages to deal with the dropping ball.
21 – Too high: Beye slips past Kilbane down the right but his centred cross is fractionally above the head of Viduka.
19 – Almost: A long-throw is allowed to bounce inside the Wigan box and Duff almost pounces, but Scharner hammers the ball clear.
18 – Stray ball: Valencia with a wayward back-pass which is chased by Viduka but Bramble gets the ball safely back to Kirkland.
17 – Free-kick: Emre delivers to the back-post but no Newcastle player can get a head on it.
16 – Barge: Free-kick into the box and Taylor appears to push Sibierski in the back. The striker takes a tumble but Dean waves away the protests.
15 – Stabbed away: Taylor manages to get a toe to the ball as a Brown header threatens to free Sibierski through the middle.
13 – Free-kick: Dangerous delivery by Taylor which is put behind for a corner. Valencia threatens with a good ball back into the box after the initial set-piece was cleared, but it is just too high for Bent.
12 – First shot: Scharner allowed to roam forward and hits a left-foot shot from 30-yards, but it is straight down Given’s throat.
11 – Too much: Viduka tries to beat Brown about eight times on the edge of the box and ends up standing on the ball.
10 – Good football: Wigan knock the ball around well in midfield, but everything is sideways and Newcastle are happy to let them have the ball.
9 – Muscled out: Duff comes all the way across the pitch to pick up the ball on the right, but he is easily nudged off the ball by Bramble.
7 – Quiet start: Both teams yet to really test the opposition defence and the ball is just pin-balling around in midfield.
Smith has started in midfield meaning Viduka is a lone figure in attack for the Magpies. That may change depending on how the game unfolds.
3 – Problem: Sibierski was caught on the back of the head by Faye and has stayed down. Referee Mike Dean is slow to allow the physio onto the pitch. The Frenchman looks like he is going to be OK to continue.
2 – Chase: Bent chases a long ball from Valencia and almost gets to Given before he can clear Taylor’s back pass.
1 – Intent: Wigan straight on the offensive. Sibierski is throwing his weight around up front and looks like he will be a handful for Taylor and Faye.