In a fairly even first half, the defenses generally held the upper hand, as Newcastle and Aston Villa were 0-0 at St. James’ Park tonight at the break.
But if anything Villa looked slightly the more threatening side as Martin Laursen hit the bar with a header after 11 minutes. But then immediately Martins raced through the center and got around Cuellar to hit the ball way over the bar.
The game was evenly contested with Newcastle playing some nice football, but very aware of the quick breakaway from Villa.
Then after 22 minutes somehow Agbonlahor somehow construed a miss from just 7 yards our when he tried to poke the ball home with his left foot and embarrassingly mishit his shot – a big let off for the Magpies.
Then Barton ran though and had a good ground shot from 30 years that goalkeeper Brad Friedel saved well down to his right, with Martins looking for any rebound.
On 32 minutes Martins, who was looking very lively broke on the right but then again blazed his shot over the bar, but we think Oba’s on orders to shoot if he gets anywhere near the goal.
Then after 36 minutes Young had a chance from just 6 yards out but Shay Given, making his 450th appearance for the Magpies blocked his shot brilliantly to concede a corner.
Then Newcastle had a good spell just before half time with Jonas doing good work on the left and he could be the match winner if Newcastle can just get a break-through.
But Newcastle are aware of the speed of the Villa counter-attacks and often the midfield seems unwilling to support the front two very often. The lads are playing well but this Villa side are no slouches and will be difficult to beat on the night, but we’ll have to go for it.
This game is very even, and it’s clear Newcastle will need to raise their game a notch or two to get 3 points from this game, which we desperately need.
Potential match winners for Newcastle are Martins, Jonas and Barton in midfield.
Newcastle United: Shay Given, Habib Beye, Jose Enrique, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Nicky Butt (c), Joey Barton, Jonas Gutierrez, Damien Duff, Oba Martins, Shola Ameobi
Subs: Steve Harper, Claudio Cacapa, Danny Guthrie, Michael Owen, Sebastien Bassong, Charles N’Zogbia, Geremi
Aston Villa: Brad Friedel, Luke Young, Carlos Cuellar, Martin Laursen, Nicky Shorey, Nigel Reo-Coker, Gareth Barry, John Carew, Gabriel Agbonlahor, James Milner, Ashley Young
Subs: Steve Sidwell, Marlon Harewood, Curtis Davies, Zat Knight, Moustapha Salifou, Bradley Guzan, Craig Gardner
Referee: Steve Bennett