This was a game of two halves with Birmingham the better and more decisive team in the first period, and they were good value for their 1-0 interval lead.
But whatever Keegan said to the team at the break certainly had the desired effect as the team came back from the dead in the second period to equalize with a good opportunist goal from Michael Owen.
Michael Owen – captain’s vital goal keeps Newcastle alive
Newcastle came storming back in the second half and not only equalized but will probably count themselves unlucky not to have taken all 3 points, given their fighting and gutsy performance after the beak.
It was nail biting stuff, that’s for sure.
Newcastle looked very tentative in the first half and it was Birmingham. who had the better of the early chances. In fact in the first half Newcastle didn’t really carve out a real chance although Owen fired over from about 30 yards.
Newcastle once again gave away a sloppy goal, as Abdoulaye Faye was far too easily beaten when James McFadden got the ball from the left wing, and easily beat Faye, about 10 yards out, to fire home easily past the helpless Steve Harper.
Harper looked furious that Newcastle had given away yet another poor goal. In the first half McFadden was giving Newcastle, and Faye in particular, a torrid time and he looked a match winner in the first 45 minutes. McFadden is a very improved player this season.
In the first half Newcastle were playing some nice football but still looked as fragile as they looked against Liverpool. And they continue to make a habit of giving away sloppy goals.
Given that our team has scored just 4 goals in 9 games under Kevin Keegan (Owen has 3 of those), it’s hard for our team to win if we concede just one goal.
Newcastle trudged off at half time, and things were not looking good, to say the least.
But Newcastle came back from the dead and played with some spirit in the second half.Â What was also noticeable was that they looked very fit, as they piled the pressure on Birmingham.Â Against Fulham we must keep a clean sheet through the first 45 minutes and then maybe we can push for a good win.
In the 56th minute Oba Martins and Michael Owen were working well together inside the penalty box and the ball ran loose to Oba, who put in a beautiful low drive on the turn that Taylor parried to his right. Michael Owen was in like a shot to put the ball in the back of the net. In the process Michael beat two Birmingham defenders to the ball.
If anybody doubts Owenâ€™s speed off the mark look ate this replay where he gives 2 years on the Birmingham defenders and still pokes the ball in the net.
After 81 minutes Keegan made a strange substitution bringing on N’Zogbia for …. Oba Martins. That was a little weird since Oba looked Newcastle’s most dangerous player in the second. Why not take off Viduka, who was making his first appearance for several weeks?
Oba to us is looking to be the odd man out at Newcastle, and we shouldn’t surprised if he sees th writing on the wall and leaves Newcastle in the summer. He was not happy at being brought off and we don’t blame him one little bit, because he probably thought he could get the winner for Newcastle tonight.
But make no mistake about it, this was a crucial point for Newcastle, and to their credit in the second half showed fight, spirit and skill and this match should provide them with confidence for the visit of Fulham on Saturday.
We must say that a defeat tonight would have wrecked the team, not to mention the supporters. This is a game in which we dodged a bullet. A defeat would have put Birmingham ahead of us in the league, but we now remain above them and are now 4 points from the the drop zone.