Despite a late rally, Newcastle lost to Wigan 2-1 at the JJB. With the Boxing Day loss, the Magpies hold at twelfth place in the table with twenty-two points, one behind Portsmouth and Bolton.
Newcastle had the first scoring chance fourteen minutes-in but a saving tackle by Austrian international Paul Scharner thwarted Michael Owens close range effort with a textbook tackle. Finally as momentum had switched in Wigan's favour they took the lead a minute before the half-hour mark as Ryan Taylor kept his shocking good form against Newcastle, curling in a sublime free-kick from twenty-three meters.
Without much of an offensive spark, Joe Kinnear looked to insert to youthful pace as with twenty-two minutes remaining Andrew Carroll came in for Mark Viduka who had been pressed into the starting grid for José Enrique who was injured in the warm-up. However Wigan looked to have complete control of the match with seventeen minutes remaining as Amr Zaki converted from the spot following Sébastien Bassong being red-carded for obstructing Emile Heskey. With seventy-eight minutes remaining Canadian U20 and Newcastle academy product David Edgar entered for Michael Owen and youthful lineup displayed a sharp focus to get back into the match. With two minutes remaining Wigan 'keeper Chris Kirkland brought down Andy Carroll and the spot was pointed to. Danny Guthrie converted with poise and a frantic finish was on as the youth troop wasn't willing to go down without a fight. While Andy Carroll made claims for a penalty in the dying seconds, the levelling goal was not to be and Newcastle lost 2-1.
The match ended in controversy and what is becoming expected, Joe Kinnear complained of the officiating, in-particular that Andy Carroll wasn't awarded a penalty late and was shown a yellow for simulation.
"I thought it was a certain penalty at the end with Andy Carroll," he said.
"Steve Bruce also thought it was a stonewall penalty but in the end Andy has been booked which is very disappointing.
"Our lads gave their lot in the final stages and pushed on and I thought we could get an equaliser.
"Big Andy has changed the complexion of the game when he came on and did well to win the penalty which gave us that hope.
"If only the second one had been awarded we could be sat here talking about a draw."
"Heskey has done well, thrown himself and lost his balance. But he's 6ft 3in. The referees fall for it. At the other end Andy Carroll's got hacked down from behind. See it on TV, see it on the tape, it's a clear penalty. Even Stevie Bruce said the same but we didn't get it. That sums up his performance.
"In the last 15 minutes I always thought we'd get something out of the game. Then the penalty pops us, but you have to rely on officials to do their job, what they are supposed to do.
"They want respect in the game but what would you say after today. I'm too sick to say anything else."
While many will be disappointed with the loss, it must be stressed the solid performance of the younger players with Andy Carroll finally getting a chance to show his abilities. Hopefully this is just the start of things to come.