Toon suffer Christmas Ram raid
NEWCASTLE UNITED survived a real scare at St James's Park today after leaving it late to save their blushes against doomed Derby County.
United had to come from behind twice against the Rams but even Mark Viduka's late equaliser could not stop the boos ringing out come the final whistle against the Premier League's poorest side.
The Magpies made just one change the side that won 1-0 at Fulham last week with skipper Geremi dropped to the bench and Mark Viduka promoted to the starting line-up.
And after a series of practice games Big Sam was also able to name Damien Duff on the bench who was ready to taste his first Premier League action since April when the player badly injured his foot.
It was an attacking selection from Allardyce but the rock bottom Rams stunned Gallowgate on six minutes when Kenny Miller slipped it from the edge of the box to Giles Barnes who scored with a crisp low finish to beat Shay Given.
United churned out a couple of half chances but came agonisingly close on 21 minutes when NÃ¢ÂÂZogbiaÃ¢ÂÂs corner found the head of Oba Martins yet the NigerianÃ¢ÂÂs effort hit Barnes on the line and Derby cleared the danger.
Yet DerbyÃ¢ÂÂs goal was living a charmed life and keeper Stephen Bywater had to be at his best to keep out Habib BeyeÃ¢ÂÂs right footed effort three minutes later.
Seconds later Viduka was upended by Darren Moore right on the edge of the penalty area but NÃ¢ÂÂZogbiaÃ¢ÂÂs curler went just over the top of the bar.
And United finally broke through on 26 minutes.
A probing run from NÃ¢ÂÂZogbia saw the Frenchman pick out Alan Smith who held it up in the Dee before Viduka took a touch and thumped it home from 18 yards.
The French Under-21 star was certainly on song too and a teasing cross on 33 minutes resulted in Beye nodding one the wrong side of the post as Newcastle piled on the pressure.
And they would be chances Newcastle would regret as seven minutes into the second period Derby regained their lead.
A long ball over the top was played to the feet of Miller via a knockdown from Steve Howard before the ex-Celtic and Wolves man cut inside Rozehnal and slotted it past Given to make it 2-1.
Four minutes later and Allardyce replaced the Czech defender with Steven Taylor.
Derby though almost extended their lead with 62 minutes gone as Miller fed Howard and the ex-Hartlepool striker fired over the top.
With a quarter of the game left there was warm applause for comeback star Duff when he replaced Nicky Butt to take up a place on the left hand side of a four man attack.
Big Sam made his last throw of the dice with 15 minutes to go when Emre came on for Barton as Newcastle went for broke.
One minute later though it was his fellow sub Duff who stung the hands of Bywater with swerving cross cum shot that needed to be turned away from goal.
Derby were more than happy to play out time much to the frustration of everybody in black and white as Newcastle headed for the lowest point of the season against the relegation haunted Rams.
But with four minutes left Newcastle were level after Given swept one long up the field for Martins before Viduka cracked home the equaliser to make it 2-2.
UNITED: Given, Beye, Rozehnal (Taylor 59), Cacapa, NÃ¢ÂÂZogbia, Barton (Emre 75), Butt (Duff 67), Martins, Viduka, Smith, Milner.
Subs: Harper, Geremi.
DERBY: Bywater, McEveley, Leacock, Howard, Miller, Teale (Feilhaber 81), Lewis (Fagan 78), Moore, Mears, Pearson, Barnes.
Subs: Price, Earnshaw, Holmes.
Ref: Andre Marriner (Birmingham)
Crowd: 51, 386