Super sub Duff wins it for Toon

By Lee Ryder on Dec 21, 08 05:10 PM

TOON super sub Damien Duff won the day for Newcastle United against Spurs after netting a dramatic winner against the Londoners.

The Irishman struck right at the end of the contest with Tottenham to keep Joe Kinnear's promising run going at St James's Park.

Oba Martins failed to shake off his groin trouble meaning there was a start for Shola Ameobi who partnered skipper Michael Owen in attack.

Spurs had the first pop at goal in this crunch clash but Aaron Lennon's good work down the right eventually resulted in the England winger fizzing a shot wide of the target.

United won a corner on six minutes and after Guthrie has swirled the ball in Coloccini headed back across goal before Sebastien Bassong wildly sliced it at goal and Spurs cleared the danger.

Lennon made another bursting run down the right on 11 minutes and after Jose Enrique had chopped him down ref Andre Marriner instantly flashed his yellow card for the first time in the afternoon.

However, it was Toon winger N'Zogbia who had fans on their feet moments later after United had cleared the set-piece.

Shay Given's long punt was latched upon by N'Zogbia who outpaced the Tottenham defence to make a clear run at goal.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto tugged the Frenchman back for what looked like a spot-kick and even though Marriner waved away protests N'Zogbia regained his balance before lashing it past Heurelho Gomes to snatch the lead.

Mid-way through the half Nicky Butt had the chance to double the lead yet after receiving a ball over the he scuffed his effort at Gallowgate.

On 27 minutes N'Zogbia made another probing run down the left before firing in a powerful shot that stung the hands of Gomes but Spurs again cleared the danger.

And the visitors were level two minutes later after a midfield mix-up.

Guthrie had attempted to play the ball through the centre circle.

But Ameobi's touch let him down and Michael Dawson dinked over a great ball for one time Newcastle transfer target Luka Modric who beat the offside trap before coolly slotting home past Given.

The goal resulted in Butt and Guthrie exchanging strong words after Newcastle let their lead slip.

Then to rub salt into the wounds Ameobi was subbed for Mark Viduka after the striker pulled his hamstring.

A good move six minutes later saw Guthrie thread the ball to N'Zogbia who whipped in a fine cross for Owen but the skipper headed just over.

Both sides lacked both quality and invention in the first 15 minutes of the second half with even half chances limited as the game reached the hour mark.

Marriner had his yellow card out again on 62 minutes after Tom Huddlestone collapsed in heap after Given's challenge with the Spurs midfielder performing a theatrical dive at Gallowgate.

Huddlestone belted a shot over on 67 minutes after Lennon had laid the ball off.

With 19 minutes remaining United produced a great chance for Owen after N'Zogbia had crossed from the left to allow Viduka to hold the ball up.

Yet Owen lashed it over the top of the bar and Tottenham survived a close shave.

With five minutes left Spurs could have grabbed the lead after Lennon crossed from the byline but nobody could get on the end of it for the visitors.

United then introduced Damien Duff in the dying stages with Enrique coming off, N'Zogbia dropped to left-back with the Irishman in his familiar attacking role.

And with his first touch he scored in the last minute of regulation time it was Duff who proved to be United's super sub.

Duff played it to Viduka before carrying on his run and receiving the ball back from the Aussie via a neat backheel before he calmly rolled it low under Gomes to grab his second of the season.

UNITED: Given, Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, Enrique (87), Jonas, Guthrie, Butt, N'Zogbia, Ameobi (Viduka 30), Owen

SPURS: Gomes, Zokora, Bentley, Huddlestone, Lennon, Pavlychenko (Pavlyuchenko 65), Modric, Dawson, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto

Ref: Andre Marriner

Crowd: 47,982


Al Jadine said:

We deserved this. Your report makes it seem Lennon had a better game than he did. With a few notable exceptions, Enrique kept him quiet - except for his protestations to the ref every time he lost the ball. I thought the ref was poor and petty throughout and was disppointed that the Spurs players seemed to go down so easily and so often, althought they were a lot better than the last time we played them.

We have tremendous problems in centre of midfield where neither Butt not Guthrie seem to know when to stick or twist. They don't support the attack enough nor do they get the ball out to the forwards or the wide men quickly enough. This is a problem we've had for a while, under several mangers and with several different midfield pairings. We desperately need someone with a little flair and nous in there. I would seriously be tempted to stick Duff or Nzogbia in there along either Butt, Guthrie or, when fit, Barton and llay the other out wide. Spurs, by contrast, chased every ball and looked for the quich lay off to an attacker every time.

Paul Wait said:

"......and after Jose Enrique had chopped him (Lennon) down" Was it too much pre match Christmas sherry that made you see Jose commit such a violent premeditated act? A foul it was but nothing more.

However, have you thought about copyrighting the words "Ameobi's touch let him down"? You could make yourself a lot of money with that one. A guaranteed steady income from every journalist, television and radio commentator every time he takes to the pitch!

Big Kev said:

Is Bentley the most over rated, over paid waste of space the Preiership has ever seen? This man believes his own hype so much he's in danger of disappearing up his own backside, no wonder Wenger got rid the guys a joke. Everytime he was tackled he give it the "come on ref that's a foul" he's like Ronaldo without the skill. Englands great hope or the next Beckham? Do me a favour this show pony needs to be taken to th eknackers yard!!

ronnie lambert said:

Spot on Al, Lennon did just o.k. for me, when he wasn't diving and trying to get Jose booked and sent off, like a few other Spurs' divas. Yes we deserved the three points but we weren't lucky as many spurs supporters are moaning on about. THEY were lucky that Shola's usual nonchalence/sloppiness was in full flow. I'm not one of those that started booing him when he lay down 'injured', or was it his pride that was injured after such an embarrassing boob?. Anyway, it's bad crack to boo your own players whilst on the pitch, we really do have some morons in our midst.I do hope though that someone comes in for Shola who's run his course here now. We have some good young strikers in the reserves who'll never get their chance whilst he's in our top 4 in that position. Speaking of which, I believe we have the perfect midfield schemer-cum-striker in Kasenga Lua-Lua. He's on fire in the reserves (along with Nile Ranger) and his display in midfield for us against Stoke in the cup last season should've seen him o.k. for at least an appearance or two this season. Perhaps when we're safe point-wise at the end of the season we may get that pleasure. I honestly see the kid as our next Gazza. I'm not his dad by the way. Great feeling heading for the stairs at the final whistle yesterday though, another Pompey display needed at Wigan lads.

Smudger said:

Shola was injured as Viduka was stripped before the goal and was ready to come on..not a classic performance but a great 3 points and sets up the christmas very nicely.


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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