Newcastle United v Everton – Match Report
So now we begin life without Demba Ba and it started very nicely.
The referee had barely blown his whistle when Tim Krul lashed a long ball down the pitch, Everton’s defenders at sixes and sevens and Papiss Cisse supplied a clever header over Tim Howard.
This was the kind of script we’d been looking for.
The match then settled into a pattern of United playing some half decent football on the ground, while the visitors alternated between playing it along the floor and hitting it high for Fellaini who is such a handful and by some distance Everton’s best player.
Just our luck that he only got a three match ban and returned for our game.
After a bright start it was the visitors who were pressing and it took a brilliant double save by Tim Krul to keep the scores level, the keeper having first expertly turned Baines’ free-kick away, then also saving form the full-back when the ball was played into the box.
It always sounds a bit lame trying to blame the officials when things go against you but tonight they certainly didn’t help, especially with Martin Atkinson giving numerous free-kicks for Everton in 50/50 situations while at the other end Shola and his mates got precious little. A foul count of 21 to 7 shows the bias.
If the visitors’ foul count had been increased to 8 then the end result might have been different but the referee waved away Shola’s penalty appeal as he tumbled in the box, my view wasn’t great from my seat in the Leazes’ end but there was plenty of crowd reaction from the fans in the Gallowgate close to the incident.
Unfortunately, I had an all too good view of the pivotal incident in the match.
Everton’s clear second best player is Leighton Baines and as well as being a decent defender and attacking full-back, he takes a wicked free-kick. With a steady procession handed to him by the referee, it was all hands to the pump for Newcastle as Everton’s physicality meant we were up against it on set-pieces.
From 30 yards out instead of trying to find an Everton head, Baines instead hit a tremendous swerving free-kick that went in Krul’s right side, with the keeper maybe taking half a step to his left in anticipation of it going over the wall. He corrected his position and ended up in the right area but it flew past his despairing right hand.
At a goal up Perch had hit the post from Anita’s first class free-kick delivery but saw his header come back off the woodwork, while at the other end Krul had made a couple of other excellent saves.
Overall probably a fair score at half-time but the referee was booed off as Everton had definitely got the better of his decisions.
The second half was definitely a case of the law of diminishing returns, as Newcastle found it harder and harder to create anything.
With echoes of the two away matches at Old Trafford and the Emirates, after putting so much into the first half our group of players were found wanting in terms of ability, creativity and stamina.
Though it could all have been so different when Marveaux knocked a lovely little ball into Shola whose first touch was decent but with only Howard to beat, his second touch saw the ball slide past the post.
Only seconds later came the killer blow as a sweeping move was ended with a Jelavic low cross from our right and Anichebe supplying the finish.
With half an hour to go what could United come up with? Very little unfortunately, we were largely a spent force.
With the visitors in control, Newcastle did conjure up two key moments, a great Anita cross picked out Cisse and when his header was blocked he lashed the ball goalwards while lying on the floor, only for Howard to be in the right place. Santon was played in behind the full-back but tried to beat the keeper instead of crossing for Cisse and a simple tap in.
Apart from that it was a dispiriting last 30 minutes as eventually what had been an excellent near fifty thousand supportive crowd began to drift away or wait resignedly for the final whistle.
Before the match it didn’t take a genius to realise we couldn’t rely on the bench to save us and it was no surprise when it was Bigirimana who was the first replacement with him head and shoulders ahead of the other subs in terms of ability and potential. Unfortunately he isn’t a likely match saver and then when Sammy Ameobi and Nile Ranger made late appearances things got as ragged as the later stages at the Emirates.
I can’t help but think that bringing the likes of Ranger on is Alan Pardew’s means of making clear to Mike Ashley just how bare the cupboard is.
I thought Cisse was excellent but largely wasted as he featured mainly on the right, your one decent goal scorer having to repeatedly track a full-back isn’t the best use of his talent. Pardew was left with little choice though because with having to play the pedestrian Shola, if he’d put Cisse right up top then our midfield would have been swamped by Everton because as the manager has already stated, Marveaux in’t capable of playing in a midfield two.
Adding better quality players is the only way forward and let us just hope that the watching Mathieu Debuchy didn’t get a fright at the task ahead.
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Newcastle: Krul, Perch (Ranger 87), Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Tiote (Sammy Ameobi 80), Anita, Cisse, Marveaux, Obertan (Bigirimana 65), Shola
Unused Subs: Elliot, Tavernier, Ferguson, Abeid
Everton: Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Naismith (Anichebe 58), Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic (Oviedo 88)
Ref: Martin Atkinson
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