In a pulsating game at St. James Park this afternoon Newcastle and West Ham ended up with a 2-2 draw and either team could have won this game.
Newcastle had gone one up through an opportunist goal from Michael Owen after 29 minutes when his shot from 25 yards was too quick for goalkeeper Green, who could only push it into the net.
Michael had hit the post on 13 minutes with a wonderdull move in the penalty area and a left foot cross-shot that hit the post.
The game was wide open and there were lots of chances as both teams went for the win. Then after 29 minutes West Ham scored a goal that was well worked between former Newcastle players Parker and Bellamy.
Parker took the ball off Bassong just outside the penalty area, but then Scott put through Craig Bellamy, and the Welshman easily beat Given from close range.
Half time came with the game wide open, and it continued immediately into the second half with West Ham pressing Newcastle hard and lifting their game.
After 46 minutes it looked an obvious penalty for West Ham as Bassong shoved Bellamy to the ground, but referee Alan Wiley didn’t give it – we have no idea why not – but it was a let-off for Newcastle who have given away 8 penalties already this season.
West Ham pressed forward and on the run of play they took the lead, but it was very poor defending by the Newcastle back line.
After 55 minutes a long ball over the top of the Newcastle defense found Carlton Cole completely free, and he swept the ball past Given to put the Hammers ahead.
Exactly what the back four were trying to do is a mystery, but it looked like they were pushing up to try to catch Cole offside – but he wasn’t, and was completely free. Terrible defending from Newcastle, and that’s also 4 goals in the last 4 games for Cole, who probably hopes he played against Newcastle more often.
At this point in the game it didn’t look too good for Newcastle, but if there’s one thing you cannot complain about with this Joe Kinenar side is they will fight and fight until the death, and that’s exactly what they did this afternoon.
They were pushing forward and West Ham had some opportunities to attack on the break.
After 68 minutes it looked like the Newcastle pressure had paid off as Lucas Neill sliced the ball into his own net. But referee Alan Wiley blew for a foul on Steven Taylor, who was said to have fouled James Collins – but it didn’t look like it was a foul at all. However, we suppose that made up for Wiley not giving the penalty against Bassong.
But then – cometh the hour, cometh the man and 20 year-old Andrew Carroll came though big time after 78 minutes, and following a Duff center, Carroll rose above two West Ham defenders to head the ball way and out of reach of goalkeeper Green and Newcastle had fought their way back to level the scores.
It was a typical goal we used to see often from Alan Shearer, as goalkeeper Green was rooted to his line as the ball sailed into the goal way beyond his reach – a beautiful header from the youngster, who made it look so easy.
It was the tone of the game that both sides after this goal went for the winner, and Newcastle had two chances after 2 minutes of injury time, as Gutierrez was right through on the left, but had his shot blocked.
From the resulting corner Carroll headed across goal to Owen, at the near post, and Michael just failed to head the ball into goal.
The final whistle blew and 2-2 was probably a fair result.
But we really needed all 3 points today, although the fans cannot fault the effort of this Newcastle team, and most sides would have been out of this game when West Ham got their second goal.
But not this team – but as we said we really needed all 3 points and the performance points out that we need more quality players in during January – and most of them need to be defenders and central midfield players.
We have quality but not at the level we need, and this game showed that we are at the bare bones of the squad. The lads have the fight and the spoirit – now we need to add more quality and we become a decent side.
But right now we’re simply not good enough with our current squad, and with all 8 of the injured first teamers out.
We hope Ashley realizes there is some significant danger here.
In fact there may be a mounting case for selling Shay Given, but only if we can get at least £10M for him, because we must get some new players brought in – desperately – and Ashley doesn’t appear to have the money, at least not in January.
Bassong, Enrique, Guthrie, Gutierrez, Duff, Given and Owen were good for Newcastle and Carroll looks the part, as he continues to learn the tricks of the trade in the Premier league.
Geremi had a terrible game today, as almost every free kick and corner he took were wasted – a real off-day for the Cameroon International, but Butt will be straight back in on Wednesday against Hull City.
Again we needed a strong defensive performance to get the win this afternoon, and we failed again – and just why we seem so porous at home is something Kinnear will need to sort out – quickly. We need clean sheets at home to get the wins, but we keep conceding far too many goals at St. James’ Park.
One point from the last 3 league games, with two of those at home, and 9 goals conceded simply isn’t good enough – and that’s the truth.