Toon do it the hard way in Carling Cup

By Lee Ryder on Aug 26, 08 10:17 PM

NEWCASTLE United had to do it the hard way tonight against Coventry City in the Carling Cup as they booked a place in the third round at the Ricoh Arena.

The Magpies had stormed into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Charles N'Zogbia and James Milner - only for Coventry to force extra time after goals on the stroke of half-time and full-time from Clinton Morrison and Scott Dann respectively.

And for the second game running United had to rely on a goal from super sub Michael Owen who won the game for the black and whites against the Championship side.

United named Owen on the bench once again with Steven Taylor's ankle injury meaning he didn't start the game and joined the England striker as a substitute.

That meant Sebastien Bassong partnered Fabricio Coloccini in the heart of defence and with Oba Martins (groin) and Damien Duff missing a reshuffle saw Geremi in the starting XI and Jonas Gutierrez in attack with James Milner in a 4-4-2 formation.

Jose Enrique started his first game of the season at left-back with N'Zogbia restored to his usual more advanced role up the flank and the Frenchman shone in the first half.

Also on the bench was new signing Nile Ranger with the 17-year-old from Southampton getting a taste of the big time at the Ricoh Arena.

United made their debut in the Ricoh donning their purple kit led out by skipper Nicky Butt.

United escaped a penalty appeal from the home side on eight minutes after Bassong sent Michael Misfud tumbling near the edge of the box but ref Bates ignored protests.

Newcastle's responded a minute later after a corner had broken down for the Magpies on the right hand side the ball eventually rolled into Coloccini's path but the Argentine sent the ball wide of the target after a forward run.

On 11 minutes N'Zogbia hammered a free-kick from 30 yards high over the cross bar but the home side sustained the pressure.

And they threatened Shay Given's goal again when Misfud rattled in a low shot on 20 minutes.

Yet the home fans joy was short-lived as Newcastle grabbed the lead mid-way through the first period.

Milner burst down the left after latching on to Gutierrez's ball before the Yorkshireman delivered a fine ball across the face of goal to allow N'Zogbia to poke the ball home and make it 1-0 with 21 minutes on the clock.

Milner was again in the thick of it again seven minutes later when his snapshot flashed past Andy Marshall's right hand post as United tried to double their advantage.

N'Zogbia and Milner linked up magnificently on the left again on the half hour mark and after a fine one-two the England Under-21 winger's powerful right footed effort was deflected away for a corner.

City were rocking and a minute later Danny Fox somehow got in the way of yet another Milner effort with N'Zogbia again supplying him from the left.

But Milner finally got his reward eight minutes before the break when Milner cut inside past Hall and curled a right-footed effort beyond Marshall for 2-0.
Guthrie cracked a right-footed shot at goal soon after but this time Marshall was there to turn it round the post.

But in stoppage time United - for all their possession - were stunned at the end of first half stoppage time when Republic of Ireland international Clinton Morrison bent one round his Eire team-mate to reduce arrears and make it 2-1 at the break.

The interval scoreline flattered Coventry but nevertheless the Sky Blues were right back in the tie.

United though continued to dominate and five minutes in Guthrie hit one just over after Coventry had been troubled by Milner and Enrique down the left.

Marshall kept out another Milner shot just after the hour mark when he blocked an effort with his knees but Newcastle could not find a way through.

Keegan introduced Owen with 15 minutes left with Geremi making way for the Toon skipper.

On 80 minutes Misfud cracked one from long range but a grateful Given got two hands on the ball.

A dazzling run by Enrique resulted in a wayward shot seven minutes from the end with Toon fans nervously hoping the game wouldn't be forced into extra time.

Owen failed to convert a headed chance from N'Zogbia's free-kick as the game drifted towards the end as City rode their luck.

But in stoppage time a long throw from Aron Gunnarsson was latched on to by Dann who headed it home past Given deep into stoppage time to mean United would rue those early missed chances as City forced extra time.

The equaliser - just as Morrison's first half strike had - lifted the Ricoh with some home fans regretting leaving early.

Seven minutes into the extra period United's pressure paid off when Owen was played in by Enrique in the left hand channel before his effort squirted past Marshall in the first period of extra time.

Coventry though almost levelled it up again on the stroke of half time of extra time when Elliott Ward hit the bar after a crazy scramble that United somehow survived.

And United managed to cling on to their slender lead to book a place in the next round after a night of high drama in Coventry.

United: Given, Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, Enrique, Geremi (Owen 75), Butt, Guthrie, N'Zogbia, Guttierez, Milner.

Coventry: Marshall, Hall, Fox, Ward, Dann, Beuzelin (Doyle 64), Gunnarsson, McKenzie (Gray 74), Mifsud, Morrison, Tabb (Simpson 89).

Ref: A Bates

Crowd: 19, 249


Peter Harper said:

Good performance away from home even allowing for the fact we were playing a Championship side.
I have watched every game Coloccini has played for us and he is a very good footballer-with his feet.Against Bolton I came away with doubts about his aerial ability.Tonight confirmed my original thoughts.There is no doubt he needs to improve that side of his game-and fast.

Sandy Love said:

The score line completely flatters Coventry. They should never have gotten their second, the referee should've blown the whistle a minute or at least 30 seconds before. We played really well, looked confident on the ball passed well and completely dominated posession. For me Enrique was man of the match he was excellent. I hope Keegan sees this because Charles was awesome in midfield. Bassong had a really good debut, better than Taylor maybe? Anyway great result really entertaining.

ronnie lambert said:

From elation to deflation.....again. This rollercoaster that is being a toon supporter is endless. After almost beating Manure away, to just beating Bolton at home, to just beating Coventry with a very brave line-up by KK is fraying my nerves...again. I met an old friend at a funeral today, a lifelong season ticket-holder, who told me he gave it up 2 years ago. Why? His nerves couldn't take it anymore, really. I chucked mine in after Dalglish the dismantler's first season, for the very same reason, really. I've had the pleasure of choosing my games ever since, partly because there were no season tickets available, but mainly because I'd had too much piss taken out of me by subsequent owners or boards. I'm now in a position of acquiring my first season ticket since Dalglish because there appears to be about 5,000 available and I'm seriously questioning my judgement and sanity. I totally trust Keegan as manager/coach because he should never have been allowed to leave in the first place, and that would have to be my main reason for renewal. But Mr. Ashley needs a cold shower, hopefully the 5,000 empty seats on Saturday to shake him into reality as to what's happening to this club's backbone. Something that's been taken for granted for too many years by the a*s*holes that have milked us unrivalled supporters. Keegan won the game last night, not Owen, not Gutierez, not Milner. What's he going to put on the field against Arsenal or the other Premiership teams? What is the cockney mafia doing for their money in recruitment? 5,000 empty seats every home game should just about justify their sacking and the old system of the manager seeking and buying new players be brought back into vogue. A victory away against Wenger's kids would force an abject apology from the old Busker, and an anal display in Fenwick's window.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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