Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Newcastle Report #2
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time, though Whittle was stalked by a cameraman, who whizzed around him like Scorcese on acid. The way Justin sees it everyone takes a beating some of the time.
Town kicked off, with Newey neweying it up the left. Nothing newey there then. Newcastle broke away and Town trembled more than Shearerâ€™s lip. They oozed the ball from left to right and cartooned it towards the near post; Jones the Stick slipped, shinning the ball directly to Shearer, about 10 yards out. Shearer set himself to blast the ball goalwards, but Jones the Big Stick got up off his sick bed and smothered the danger with his hot water bottle. A minute later Town got a free kick deep inside their own half. The ball was bazookered forward and after some indistinct head tennis it fell to Kalalalalalalalala on the left. Faced with Babayaro and Nâ€™zogbia, he shivered his timbers and clipped the ball into Cohen, unmarked inside the area about 16 yards out, who scoopled the ball, first time, against a defender. Chance on, shot on, nothing to report. A moment lost in the night.
Off they jolly well broke from Townâ€™s moment. Suddenly Chopra released Shearer, unmarked on the left hand edge of the Town area. Newey ran back in to the centre, rather than challenge, and Shearer cracked the ball towards the near post. Newey stretched and volleyed the ball away from the on-rushing Solano, a fruit-flavoured ice cream if ever there was one.
Settle back, the game is drifting along becalmed, just flotsam bobbing on top; the gulls pecking the surface in search of food. Theyâ€™re starving to death. A cross here, a throw in there. Newcastle just retained possession, playing little triangles up the pitch and there was the difference: Town played triangles to get it to the full backs, who then wellied it forward. They did it everywhere.
Reddy...no. Taylor steered the ball back to Given.
Reddy...no. Andrew curled the ball down the left flank and Reddy raced away. Swiped away by Bramble, suckered into a foul by Babayaro, another nearly moment of almostness to think about ...but forget.
Reddy...no. Taylor eased the riverdancer away as he chased a long ball down the left.
Kalala...no. Town trumpets fading into the background as Newcastle just held a line on the edge of the area, waiting for the inevitable error. Babayaro did the hippy-hippy shake on Cohen, the ball zooming out for a goal-kick. The crowd had long since settled in to comfortable middle age, waiting for the commercial break so they could have another tea and a slice. It was dull.
On the hour Parker sneaked the ball away from a Town player and drove his jeep down the middle. The audience parted and he tickled a pass for Shearer, who was leaning on Whittleâ€™s lamppost. Shearer leaned, Whittle learned of this plot and interceded, brilliantly rolling around the former footballer and swiping clear. Oh look, another firework, this time nearly landing on Mildenhall.
Are you bored Mr Mildenhall? A Newcastle corner to the near post was rabbit-punched to McDermott on the six-yard line. This must be really yawnsome on TV: at least we had the atmosphere.....
Ay-up, theyâ€™ve woken up: one-two buckle Maccaâ€™s shoe. Nâ€™Zobia and Babayaro, no longer strangers on our right, played a swift exchange of glances. Nâ€™Zogbia was free and curled a cross low through the six-yard box, just in front of Chopra. Is this what fishing is like? Hours of tranquillity punctuated by seconds of pumping action?
Jones the Lump. You remember him, donâ€™t you? Reddy flicked on a throw in on the right and the Lump, at the near post, briefly had visions of glory. The ball rolled off his thigh and....out for a goal-kick. That, sirs, was a highlight.
Slowly, slowly, Town started to get closer to Given. Bolland crossed, the ball was cleared, Kalala clipped in a flat zoomer from the right and Andrew, near the edge of the penalty area, snickered a header goalwards. Given was forced to touch the ball. Heâ€™s touched it! Itâ€™s only taken 67 minutes. The sheer indignity and effrontery of such things! It only served to wake them up again. They raided and roamed freely down their left and centre, pulling Town aside, creating space for Peter Rabbit to bound up the wing into a huge space. Shearer tapped the ball behind Newey and the full back ping-ponged a forehand smash over the net. Oh no, a net cord, Mildenhall palmed it over.
With twenty minutes left Town made changes: Gritton replaced the Lump and Parkinson swapped with Andrew, who had defended superbly. At last two strikers, maybe Town will attack. Within two seconds of arriving Gritton had placed a beautiful flick into the path of the Kamu-chameleon. Town threatened, the crowd roared, but Parky fell over. A minute later Mildenhall whacked the ball downfield and Bramble was overcome by fumes. Reddy sneakled behind, stretched and tried to chip-volley the ball over Given from the edge of the area. He succeeded in failing, the ball ballooning way wide, way too high. Still, itâ€™s a thought.
Oh, I forgot, They made a couple of changes too, bringing on Clark and Martin Bri-TTAIN. Got that? Bri-TTAIN, not Gritton: Bri-TTAIN.
Hey, this is getting interesting: Town attacking, the pressure tightening upon the complacent Toonâ€™s necks. Newey belted a free kick from inside the Town half deep, deep into their area. Given stayed on his line, Gritton flicked the ball out to the unmarked Cohen, on the right. He looked up and dinked a cross to the far post. Jones rose with half the Newcastle team, the ball was skidded away and Peter Rabbit stayed down, clutching his head. With Town in possession play was halted. After a tub of lard was rubbed into Peter Rabbitâ€™s head play resumed with an old-fashioned competitive drop ball.
Five minutes later Chopra fell clutching his head. After another long delay there was another drop ball, this time Bolland was ordered to knock it back to Given. Being a polite chap he obliged. Townâ€™s momentum was halted, a fortunate side-effect of all this Tyne head clutching.
With ten minutes left Newcastle built slowly from their defence. A throw in on their left, the ball stroked across the back four, Town dozing, the crowd silently contemplating extra time. Rabbit tapped the ball infield to Shearer, who played it to Brittain on the wing. Newey and Parkinson surrounded the tiny tot, but he finagled the ball through. Bolland slipped and Chopra infiltrated the left hand side of the Town area. Whittle was forced across and Shearer simply filled that empty space. Chopra dragged the ball back perfectly and SHEARER smackerooned a left shot into the bottom left hand corner from about 15 yards out. Gawd bless you Mary Poppins!
The last ten minutes were series of Town free kicks, every minute on the minute. You could set your watch by them. Newcastle were a bit dim, for that simply allowed us to belt the ball up in the air towards Jones the Supreme Stick. Underneath the Police Box Whittle was swiped away from the ball like a credit card at Woolies. Newey chipped the ball in around the far-post area. Given half came out, Jones challenged, the ball bumbled about incoherently and Bolland swept across like a debutante. He chested the ball down, turned and clattered it against Givenâ€™s shins. Corner! Newey clipped it past the penalty spot, Jones rose and glanced the ball a few inches wide of the far post.
Gritton was felled; a Town free kick was pumped high, pumped long. Jones fighting, the ball not falling for Town, Newcastle panicking the ball away.
Gritton felled again, the ball boomed high, boomed long, Jones fighting, the ball bouncing down. For a fraction of a second, the goal seemed to invite glory. Jones, beyond the penalty spot, swung his left foot and dragged the ball several years wide.
A couple of minutes left, another free kick. Launched on the latest Chinese rocket, Jones waiting for re-entry at the far post. The ball arrived, Jones strained and skimmed a glancing header wide from about eight yards out. If only weâ€™d tried attacking earlier: they donâ€™t like it up â€˜em at all. Cohen was released in the centre, dribbling past two, the ball squishing out to Parkinson, 25 yards out: a mis-control. Thatâ€™s it. No more; the end. Three minutes of added time were taken up entirely by cute time-wasting in the corners. It really did end with a whimper.
As the players went off there was a bit of scufflage. Was Shearer vain or were we blind? Donâ€™t you hate people when theyâ€™re not polite.
Town defended well but barely attacked, just like any other home game. Newcastle looked decidedly shaky whenever the old-fashioned hump was deployed. Itâ€™s such a shame Townâ€™s ambitions were so limited: to avoid embarrassment and see what happens.
They passed purringly well when we let them, but didnâ€™t really create much. Orient and Wycombe were far more troubling. The difference was what it always is: rich big teams can afford strikers who fail less than Michael Reddy. There it is in a nutshell: the cream of the crop, tip of the top - it's Mary Poppins, and there we stop.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Defensively Town were superb, considering. Newey was not turned into the mushy pea left-back he usually is, Whittle was the Rock, but once again, the glue, the mortar, the leader of the pack was Mr Rob Jones the Stick. No messinâ€™.
Robâ€™s Rant of the Day
Forgetting the argument over club colours, the dredging up of an old favourite takes the chanting biscuit. First hurled towards Warren Barton in 1990, Peter Rabbit was the subject of a short rendition of "Does your mother cut your hair". Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
Mr M Halsey. Ah yes, the admirable Halsey, was perfect. The Mysterious Affair at Whittleâ€™s Elbow: thatâ€™s a novella he read on Doncaster station. Surely he gets extra marks for watching Shearerâ€™s lip crumble and quiver. Oh yes, a magnificent 11.87 for giving the nation what it wants.
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