Monday, May 11, 2009

The legend continues to lead

With their hopes and dreams packaged neatly in the hands of the incomparable number 9, Mr Alan Shearer rode into the storm and once again, the magic in the thirty-eight year-old heart shone through. Now six weeks into accepting the role to lead Newcastle through the stormiest of storms, Mr. Shearer's side responded with a hearty 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough. Remember it for what you will but with the flags waving and voices singing out for ninety minutes the Toon Army came together as a congregation and propelling their side to victory.

The die was cast before the match; lose and relegation is in the cards. Amongst the stars of Monday evening, tactics would be cast aside as each man would need to summon from his heart the spirit of relentless champion. Like a war horse ready for battle, Newcastle came out storming done the pitch. This was their night and damn looking back, the call was to attack, attack, attack. Surging forward Newcastle bristled the 'Boro net early but at three minutes the visitors took the lead as Tuncay Şanlı's effort was sent in by Habib Beye. Yet something had changed from prior matches because this time instead of the pall of defeat a deafening roar went up from the congregation as voice rang out in unison, attack, attack, attack. And so Newcastle did, channeling the courage of the legend and propelled large in-part by the work Mark Viduka damning injury and time. Six minutes later the match was knotted up as Danny Guthrie's corner was headed in by Steven Taylor fearlessly surging into the box.

As the match waned on past the hour mark still deadlocked Mr Shearer didn't hesitate with his next move. Three points was Newcastle's tonight but it would not come to the faint of heart. Be bold and attack and after bringing in Peter Lövenkrands for Jonás Gutiérrez, he called upon Oba Martins for Michael Owen with twenty minutes remaining. Controversial to some, yet faith in the legend never waned as the Nigerian striker pushed aside the pain of an injury that waits the surgeon's scalpel at seasons end. Only a minute later he someone managed to stroke the ball into the net whilst falling via Mark Viduka's provision and yes, Newcastle had the lead. The congregation at St James' rang out in praise and the ground shook as Oba pushed aside his normal celebration and made a straight line towards Mr. Shearer. If there was concern of giving back the lead Peter Lövenkrands sealed it with four minutes remaining as he sent Kevin Nolan's cross in.

The victory squeezes Newcastle out of the drop zone but the narrowest of margins and as the sun rose the next day the realization is that there is considerable work still to be done. Tough tests against Fulham and Aston Villa await and once again Newcastle will need to summon the strength that resides in the crest. It is neither given or easy work but through the heart and soul of what teems through the club now, it can be done.