Newcastle gained a second successive away draw and their second successive clean sheet as they held Middlesbrough at The Riverside this afternoon, in front of over 32,00 fans in an evenly fought contest with few clear cut chances.
The teams were well matched and it was a good open game at the Riverside with both sides playing more than decent football, and Newcastle came closest to taking the lead in the first half, when a beautiful shot on the turn by Oba Martins had Boro goalkeeper Ross Turnbull well beaten, but the ball hit the cross bar and went over.
But all in all the first half was evenly matched with few clear cut chances and both sides looking for the opening.
Then in the second half Middlesbrough began to get more of the game but Bassong and Coloccini were again outstanding at the heart of the Newcastle defense and were able to hold the Boro forwards at bay.
Then after 65 minutes manager Kinnear made a strange decision when he replaced the effective and sharp Oba Martins with Mark Viduka, but left Michael Owen in the game, when Michael didn’t show much all afternoon.
It could be that Joe’s thinking was that he wanted to give Michael some time on the field, but it was a little unfair on Martins, and we cannot have Martins be the fall guy this time, as he was under Big Sam.
But Alves should have done better when he was almost clean through on 67 minutes, but his shot from just outside the area was wide and high, when he could have scored for the home side.
It was one of the few times Alves got away from Sebastien Bassong, who handled the big Brazilian brilliantly all afternoon.
Viduka looked good when he came on, and since we haven’t scored for a couple of games look for Joe to maybe start in a 4-3-3 formation next week in our home game with Stoke City, which is now a must-win game.
This is also our third draw on the trot, and we’re not going to get away form the relegation zone quickly with draws. We must start winning these games, when we can, but to be fair to Middlesbrough, they played well today, and it would have been very hard on them had Newcastle captured all 3 points.
But we still wouldn’t have minded too much to have won the game. 😀
A draw was a fair result and Newcastle fans can take away another terrific defensive display form the lads, and again Coloccini and Bassong were superb for Newcastle. Young Seb Bassong is starting to look like a great player for Newcastle in central defense.
We think Kinnear will be well pleased with the display, if not the result, because Newcastle looked solid and kept their shape, and found Middlesbrough in good form.
Kinnear and our coaches have done a great job with the defense, they loook solid these days, and now we need to learn again how to score goals. Viduka back from injury will help and maybe Alan Shearer could come in a few days a week, and show them how to do it. And as we said maybe we play 4-3-3 at home so we can get some goals and some wins.
Oh yes, one more thing is that Newcastle move up one place, and above Sunderland who were hammered 4-1 at The Stadium of Light this afternoon by Bolton, of all teams, who beat Middlesbrough last week away.
Sunderland’s failing was their defense as every goal they conceded was questionable at best.
They may have beat us 2-1 at The Stadium of Light, on October 28th, for the first time in 28 years, but we must have put a curse on them, because since then they’ve lost 6 of their last 7 league games.
Their next game is – yes – Manchester United away.
MFC: Ross Turnbull, Justin Hoyte, Andrew Taylor, David Wheater, Emanuel Pogatetz, Jeremie Aliadiere, Julio Arca, Didier Digard, Stewart Downing, Tuncay Sunli, Alfonso Alves
Subs: Adam Johnson, Marvin Emnes, Mido, Jonathan Grounds, Seb Hines, Josh Walker, Brad Jones
NUFC: Shay Given, Habib Beye, Jose Enrique, Sebastien Bassong, Fabricio Coloccini, Nicky Butt, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez, Charles N’Zogbia, Oba Martins, Michael Owen (c)
Subs: Steve Harper, Claudio Cacapa, Steven Taylor, Mark Viduka, David Edgar, Andy Carroll, Geremi
Referee: Alan Wiley