Saturday, April 11, 2009

Andy Carroll saves day for Newcastle

There is something poetic of local legend Alan Shearer coming in to try and rescue Newcastle from demotion only to be rewarded with his first points as manager via the work of Gateshead native Andy Carroll. Such is the case with Newcastle as with their back against the walls young Mr Carroll stepped up the mantle of responsibility and brought their match against Stoke City to its a eventual 1-1 conclusion as he nodded in the equalizer with less than ten minutes remaining. While Newcastle's safety is a fight that won't stop till the last minute of time on 24 May, this was a crucial first step. The result leaves Newcastle in the relegation zone, level with Middlesbrough who beat Hull City and two points behind nearest foes Sunderland.

For Stoke, who are nearing the crucial safety zone of forty points, the match will be a frustrating memory as they controlled much of the run of play but found getting a ball past Magpie 'keeper Steve Harper a near impossibility. Prior to the start of the match number 9, Obafemi Martins that is, was ruled out with a muscle strain thus forcing the hand of Michael Owen and Shola Ameobi up top. After a modest beginning Abdoulaye Faye struck back at his old side as he nodded in Liam Lawrence's corner three minutes past the hour. The goal, came off a highly questionable call that awarded the corner but for the balance of the half it did not look like justice would be served. Stoke came close to adding to the margin but as is the case, close doesn't count as they couldn't find a way through. Finally with twenty minutes remaining Andy Carroll strode on the pitch and with a clear-cut vision of scoring, the Gateshead boy went searching. After his early attempt to head in Jonás Gutiérrez's cross was off-course, he headed on Damien Duff's advance with nine minutes remaining to bring the match to its final 1-1 score.