It’s not too often that Newcastle let in two goals these days, but the Magpies were happy to share the spoils today against a good Middlesbrough side at the Riverside stadium.
But that stops the win run at just four games, and WBA have gained another 2 points on Newcastle today after their good 3-2 home win against an impressive Blackpool side.
But Nottingham Forest, 3-0 down at half time, could only pull 2 goals back in the final 45 minutes, so Newcastle are now 9 points clear of the 3rd placed side, with a much better goal difference (40 vs 21) and a game in hand.
If Newcastle can win that game in hand, they will effectively now be 13 points clear in an automatic promotion position.
Newcastle went ahead in this keenly fought game through – who else but red hot striker Peter Lovenkrands – who hit his 13th goal of the season, and is now level with Kevin Nolan at the top of the goal charts.
And it was Peter’s first away goal of the season, and only his second away goal ever at Newcastle United.
Argentine winger Jonas Gutierrez provided a great through ball to Peter on 16 minutes, and the Danish International hit a low left-footed shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.
But Middlesbrough came back into the game well and equalized after 36 minutes, when former Celtic players Scott McDonald and Barry Robson combined well, before Robson hit a left-footed shot beyond Steve Harper, who never moved.
It was all square at half time and it was proving to be a close game.
But it was also clear that Middlesbrough manager Gordon Strachan had his side ready for this game, and they pressed in the second half.
And there were Newcastle concerns after 50 minutes, when Argentine Coloccini had to leave the field with what appeared to be a muscle injury, and 19 year-old Kadar moved into the middle to partner Fitz Hall. Ryan Taylor came on at left-back.
Butt was surprisingly introduced for Peter Lovenkrands after 70 minutes, maybe to shore up the Newcastle defense, but then Middlesbrough went ahead on 74 minutes after putting the Newcastle side under constant pressure.
It was Barry Robson’s free-kick that was turned back across goal by Chris Killen and Scott McDonald smashed the ball home from point-blank range.
Now the question was – could Newcastle come back and at least salvage a point?
And the lads didn’t let their 3500 traveling fans down, as they pressed for the all important equalizer, and it finally came after 82 minutes.
Ryan Taylor got the ball into the area to Andy Carroll, and the 21 year-old striker placed a beautiful low, left-footed shot past a frozen Danny Coyne to level the scores at 2-2.
Newcastle pressed for the winner but it was not to be, and in all truthfulness a draw seemed a fair result, since Middlesbrough looked a strong fighting side this afternoon, in front of a very good 27,347 crowd at the Riverside.
And who knows, the Middlesbrough club may yet make it back to the PL at their first attempt – we wouldn’t put it past them on this performance.
Have the 3 relegated teams all returned to the PL in the next season? We think not.
But today we got a hard earned point, and although not as good as a win, we’ll take it, thank you very much.
Now we have Scunthorpe at home on Wednesday night and we can not take any side, including Scunthorpe for granted.
In any case they beat us last October 2-1, so we have a a score to settle with Scunthorpe, which should have the players motivated for the game.
We are getting a little worried about how leaky the defense has become and it’s now one clean sheet in 8 games, and we’ve conceded 10 goals in those 8 games, not good.
Not only will the lads need to win on Wednesday night, but a clean sheet would be very nice too.
Then Newcastle have two away games next Saturday at Bristol City, followed by a game at Doncaster Rovers the following Tuesday evening.
Then the lads will entertain Nottingham Forest on March 29th, which should be a corker, especially after Forest beat us 1-0 back in October.
Now we’ll have to wait and see how Coloccini is doing, since that’s now an extra worry with Mike Williamson already being injured for today’s game.
Comments very welcome.