November 2009 Archives

You can say what you want when it comes to whether Newcastle United are good enough to get out of the Championship - but 18 games into our first second tier campaign since 1993 and it's pretty clear that the standard in this division is arguably as bad it has ever been.

On the back of the Swansea game the gut reaction by many Toon fans was that the second half was one of the poorest of the season, good job we were unbelievable in the fist 28 minutes really wasn't it?

If Swansea's defence is supposed to be one of the best in the division then I can't wait until we play the worst!

SO it's the visit of Swansea this week as Newcastle United try to stay at the top of the Championship and keep their good run of form going.

I'll be at St James' Park to bring you all the colour and drama from a game which promises to be another stern test of the Toon's title credentials.

The Swans are forth in the table under former midfield star Paolo Sousa and will be looking to mount their own promotion challenge ahead of the testing Christmas period.

It's a 3pm Saturday kick-off for the Magpies for the first time in what seems like ages, and of course it's not on TV, so why not join in here for a bit of banter.

And as an added bonus, we'll also have some Swansea fans watching and taking part as we're letting our sister paper get involved, so lets show them some real Geordie hospitality.

Just come back here from 2.45pm or click below to set a reminder.


1. The Football League have certain restrictions about when I can write about the match action.

2. We cannot publish links to illegal streaming sites, so don't even bother asking.

3. Thousands of you log on each match, and we cannot publish every comment we receive.

4. Sorry, this service is not available to mobile phone users

5. Enjoy the game!

There will certainly be a warm Tyneside welcome on offer to the folk of Swansea when they make the long journey to Newcastle from South Wales.

But hopefully that's where the niceties will end - well for 90 minutes only.

Swans fans heading to the Toon will be allowed to roam the city in any way they please with Newcastle never having the "one horse town" mentality of other places by slapping up signs of "home fans only" on pub doors.

When Kevin Nolan fired home the winner at Deepdale it was the cue for almost the entire hospitality suite to clamber for the exits with faces like smacked backsides.

That was a sweet moment.

At too many grounds in the Championship this season, there have been too many glory hunters who probably don't set foot in the grounds of places like Preston, Scunthorpe or Blackpool unless there's a big game on.

Rather than supporting their local side, they prefer to don their Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea shirts and talk football like experts watching Sky in the bars up and down the country from Northwich to Torquay and beyond.

TOON midfielder Kevin Nolan claimed a predatory 74th-minute winner against Preston to fire Newcastle United back to the top of the Championship.

The former Bolton skipper moved the Magpies two points clear of West Brom with a clinical low left-footed drive - his ninth goal of the season - to send the huge army of supporters who'd travelled to Deepdale into raptures.

Nolan endured a torrid campaign last season after joining United in January and becoming part of the side that slid out of the Premier League.

Yet he is doing his best to ensure the side make an immediate return to the promised land by recapturing the goalscoring form and drive which once saw him tipped to win full England honours.

Alan Smith, another player who looks back to his best, played a pivotal role alongside Nolan in the middle of the park. The Magpies skipper showed his stomach for the fight remains firmly intact with a fine display.

Defeat was on harsh on Preston, who gave Newcastle several worrying moments but lacked the kind of killer finish Nolan provided.

The 27-year-old always has one eye on the opposition goal and in the 14th minute he showed neat footwork to evade the attention of a couple of Preston players and strike a fierce shot from 25 yards which warmed Andy Lonergan's hands.

Moments later, Preston midfielder Richard Chaplow engineered the space to drive a neat low shot just wide of Steve Harper's goal from distance.

Michael Tonge, handed a debut in midfield for Preston after joining on loan from Stoke, then slashed a left-foot shot narrowly over the crossbar.

For all Newcastle's undoubted class and experience, Preston continued to worry the visiting defence, and in the 17th minute Neil Mellor was afforded the time to rifle a low shot into Harper's midriff at his near post.

The hosts looked particularly dangerous down the flanks and Chris Sedgwick's hanging cross was headed on to the top of the net by fellow winger Paul Parry.

Smith then rifled the ball just wide in the 37th minute but five minutes later Preston threatened again when Danny Guthrie surrendered possession 35 yards from goal.

Chaplow, having spotted Harper off his line, chipped the ball goalwards but his effort sailed just over the crossbar.

Preston were dealt a bitter blow on the stroke of half-time when Youl Mawene was forced off after sustaining medial ligament damage to his right knee.

His replacement was Liam Chilvers but he was almost caught cold within minutes of the restart when Andy Carroll rifled a low shot just wide.

With 16 minutes remaining, the points went to United as Guthrie crossed from the right flank and Marlon Harewood showed strength to find Nolan lurking on the left corner of the penalty box.

He showed delightful skill to strike a low, left-footed shot into the bottom corner and send Newcastle back to the league summit.

As usual I was at the game, and you can replay my live blog of the action below. (Sorry, this service is not available to mobile phone users.)

Shola Ameobi's Newcastle United career has certainly had its fair share of ups and downs - but as the player prepares to come back from injury to warm applause, the prospect of the Academy product playing at the World Cup finals in South Africa has suddenly left Chris Hughton facing showdown talks with the big striker.

The African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola poses bigger problems for Newcastle and Ameobi.

Not only will United be without their striker for up to a month, the chances of him returning back from Angola are high due to the dry and bumpy pitches in a tournament that has also never, ever lacked a physical edge - you could say that the African Nations Cup is a tournament that still includes full blooded challenges that would have the Alice band and gloves brigade of modern football in tears!

By this time tomorrow the bags of Fabrice Pancrate could be packed and he could be in the same club as Kennet Andersson, Dennis Lawrence and Bachirou Salou.

All of them didn't last after a trial with Newcastle United and all of them were forced to find careers elsewhere in the game.

Trial players usually coincide with football poverty, relegation and generally hard times for Newcastle fans and the arrival of Pancrate is no different.

When Newcastle United were relegated to the Coca-Cola Championship there were many who thought that the Magpies could quite easily go on and do another Leeds.

Depressingly, talking to Leeds fans who had suffered the drop from the big time to what many of us will always call the Third Division resulted in a warning of "get ready, because you are in for more pain".

But so far, the Championship experience has been much less painful than expected.

Without doubt a club the size of Newcastle United should not be in the second tier.

Has Jonas Gutierrez finally broken free from Final Product Phobia?

It might have been a long time in coming but finally Jonas Gutierrez was able to "celebrate" his first ever Newcastle United goal.

However, after scoring his maiden competitive strike for the Magpies with a goal that Diego Maradona would have been delighted with, the South American didn't produce his Spiderman mask and his face looked more like a slapped backside.

Afterwards it emerged that Jonas was upset with being linked to Serie A giants Roma and in protest he chose not to celebrate the goal - but there are deeper concerns from Toon fans.

NEWCASTLE fans were in strong voice at St James' Park this afternoon as United secured a comfortable 3-1 victory over Peterborough.

It was an emotional atmosphere at the ground as fans protested about Mike Ashley's decision to rename the stadium.

Jonas Gutierrez scored his first goal for the Toon and an Andy Carroll header put Newcastle 2-0 up within 20 minutes. Danny Simpson got the third shortly after the break and despite a consolation goal for Peterborough it was a convincing win for the Magpies.

As usual I was at the game bringing you live text commentary as Newcastle United. Just click on the link below to replay my take on the match.


1. The Football League have certain restrictions about when Lee can write about the match action.

2. We cannot publish links to illegal streaming sites, so don't even bother asking.

3. Thousands of you log on each match, and we cannot publish every comment we receive.

4. Sorry, this service is not available to mobile phone users

5. Enjoy the game!

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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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