Toon crisis continues despite Big Joe's arrival
JOE Kinnear's arrival at St James's Park failed to inspire Newcastle United to victory against battling Blackburn Rovers today.
Two first goals for Rovers from Christopher Samba and Roque Santa Cruz caused the damage for United with Michael Owen's second half penalty not enough to prevent a fifth successive loss.
The 44,935 crowd for the game was the lowest Premier League attendance at St James's Park since the expansion of the stadium in 2000.
Kinnear took his place in the stands for his first game as Newcastle boss today because he was unable to stand in the technical area due to an FA ban picked up at the end of his stint as Nottingham Forest manager.
The former Wimbledon chief left the City Ground in December 2004 but had a touchline ban for the game with Rovers and next Sunday's trip to Everton after running into trouble with officials almost four years ago.
And the FA contacted Newcastle on Friday to notify them that the ban was still active.
United coach Chris Hughton made just one change to the side that were dumped out of the Carling Cup by Spurs in midweek with Xisco replacing knee victim Oba Martins.
But Hughton switched things at the back with Cacapa dropping into the heart of defence alongside Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor fielded at right-back.
Geremi started wide right with Damien Duff taking up his familiar role on the opposite flank and Charles N'Zogbia partnering Nicky Butt in the engine room.
The first chance of the afternoon was for Blackburn as Matty Derbyshire ghosted down the left to find himself within range but he fired the ball straight at Shay Given.
United though did enjoy the best of the possession in the opening 15 minutes with St James's Park in good voice.
But Gallowgate fans had hearts in mouths with 16 minutes on the clock as Stephen Warnock fired at goal with the ball taking a huge deflection of Cacapa and the ball drifting narrowly wide with Given rooted to the spot.
Blackburn went even closer two minutes later when Given spread himself to keep out Roque Santa Cruz's effort out and when Derbyshire tried to force it home from close range a last gasp clearance from Sebastien Bassong kept the scores level.
A bustling run by N'Zogbia down the left on 24 minutes resulted in Brett Emerton upending the Frenchman right in front of referee Steve Tanner who produced a yellow card despite protests from Rovers Paul Ince that the United man had dived.
Yet Ince wasn't complaining on the half hour mark when N'Zogbia conceded a free-kick to allow Carlos Villanueva to curl in the set-piece and Christopher Samba's diving header beat Given for 1-0.
TV monitors instantly flicked to Kinnear in the stands with the interim boss shaking his head in disbelief at the ease in which Rovers opened the scores.
Nine minutes before the break Tanner flashed another yellow card to a Blackburn player for a foul on N'Zogbia after Warnock's cynical challenge sent the Toon star flying.
But more sloppy defending from Newcastle handed a 2-0 lead to the visitors on a plate.
The Toon back four were about as active as Grey's Monument as Emerton clipped in a right wing cross and Santa Cruz rose highest to head past Given and hand Rovers a two goal cushion at the interval.
Boos erupted around St James's three minutes into the second period when Duff's cross from the left was handled by Martin Olsson but Tanner waved away protests.
Yet he did point to the spot moments later when Owen was fouled inside the box by Ryan Nelson.
The little striker picked up the ball and smashed it into the back of the net past Jason Brown to make it 2-1 at the Gallowgate End on 51 minutes.
The goal lifted the stadium with the Owen's fifth of the season handing United a lifeline.
Duff supplied both Geremi and Xisco with great chances in front of goal with two opportunities in a minute but the pair misfired.
With 19 minutes to go Newcastle made a change with Shola Ameobi replacing Geremi with the home side switching to a more offensive formation.
N'Zobgia was then clattered by Nelson after a bursting run but ref Tanner incensed the home crowd by waving play on.
N'Zogbia hobbled off with eight minutes left as Canadian David Edgar replaced him.
UNITED: Given, Taylor, Bassong, Cacapa, Coloccini, Geremi (Ameobi 72), Butt, N'Zogbia (Edgar 82), Duff, Owen, Xisco.
Subs: Harper, Edgar, Tozer, Doninger, Donaldson, Ranger.
ROVERS: Brown. Warnock, Samba, Tugay, Nelson, Emerton, Santa Cruz (Roberts 84), Villanueva (Fowler 62), Simpson, Derbyshire (Ooijer 85), Olsson.
Ref: Steve Tanner