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United 1 Newcastle 1: Reserves frustrated as wonder-strike earns the Toon a point

Posted by nickogs20 on April 23, 2009

April 23rd 2009, 7pm
Moss Lane, Altrincham

Man Utd Newcastle
Manchester United Reserves 1-1 Newcastle United Reserves
C. Evans 8 Danquah 19
Fábio missed pen 78

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reserve side secured a top three finish in the Barclays Premier Reserve League North – with one game to go – at Moss Lane this evening, but saw a Newcastle wondergoal and a Fábio da Silva penalty miss frustrate their bid to clinch second place in the table. Corry Evans’ first goal of the season put the Reds into a deserved early lead, but United were rocked on their heels ten minutes later as, against the run of play, the visitors levelled things up thanks to a sensational strike from distance by Frank Wiafe Danquah.

Newcastle were unfortunate to see a perfectly good headed goal from Nile Ranger chalked off for a mysterious foul, but it was United who looked the more likely winners as the game wore on, and when Lee Martin was felled in the box by Ben Tozer with just over ten minutes remaining, they had their chance. Unfortunately, Fábio’s spot-kick was kept out by Tim Krul, and despite late chances for both sides, a winner wasn’t to be forthcoming.

OGS’ starting XI was thrown into disarray a tad during the warm-up, with Ritchie de Laet picking up an injury that would preclude him from continuing at the heart of defence. Oliver Gill, de Laet’s centre-back partner at Preston on Monday, stepped into a defence that also featured Richard Eckersley, Fábio and Wes Brown, the latter pencilled in for another 45 minutes of reserve action before possibly returning to first team contention on Saturday. Tomasz Kuszczak was the man between the posts, while Darron Gibson brought more senior experience to the midfield. With Messrs Welbeck and Macheda once again absent, Lee Martin continued as a somewhat unorthodox lone frontman.

Just as in last week’s game against Everton, United seized the initiative right from the outset and took the lead inside ten minutes. Corry Evans had already seen one effort on the counter saved by Krul, but when Martin steered the ball perfectly into the path of his run shortly after, the skipper capped another lightning quick breakaway by coolly slotting the ball between the Dutch keeper’s legs and into the vacated net. Back in his favoured central midfield role after spending almost the whole season at the heart of the defence, that was the 18 year-old Ulsterman’s first goal of the campaign.

Corry Evans - a long-awaited first goal of the season

Corry Evans - a long-awaited first goal of the season

So far so good, and the Reds looked to press on and drive home their advantage. Martin and Zoran Tošić were linking up to great effect, the latter really seeming to get better and better with every game recently. It seemed only a matter of time before we’d see another goal, and so it proved… no-one was expecting to be for Newcastle though.

England U19 striker Nile Ranger had looked to be the visitors’ biggest threat and he claimed the assist here, but in truth this is one of those goals where awarding an assist is extremely generous. Ranger brought down a long pass forward and laid it off into the path of his Dutch team-mate Danquah, some 25 yards or so away from goal. One vicious right-footed strike later the ball was flying past the helpless Kuszczak and nearly breaking the netting as it entered the very top corner of the goal. A truly stunning strike – you could probably quibble about Danquah not being tracked by a United player but you really just have to hold your hands up and defer to the quality of a hit like that.

United were – understandably – somewhat shell-shocked after that, and this allowed Newcastle to have their best spell of the game. The pace, height and sheer physical presence of Ranger was causing the Reds centre-halves no end of problems, and the big number 9 thought he’d given his side the lead around the half hour mark when he rose to meet Ferguson’s cross with a fine header at the back post. United players and supporters seemed as stunned as those in black and white when referee Bond disallowed the goal for a supposed push on Matt James – it was a perfectly good goal, and the Reds had been handed a very fortunate reprieve.

Solskjaer’s side weathered the storm and gradually regained the upper hand in the game, but the lack of a genuine striker and, as a result, a real cutting edge was hampering their efforts, with James’ attempt to imitate Danquah from long range (something he’s certainly capable of, as we all saw on Monday) the only real threat on Krul’s goal before the break.

The second half was a relatively tame affair in comparison to what had gone before, United continuing to string together some impressive moves without really posing too many problems for Krul, while the threat of Ranger down the other end diminished somewhat as the big man faded, perhaps as the result of a knock. His strike-partner, big-money signing Xisco, came to the fore in his stead, rattling the outside of the post from a very tight angle before seeing a scuffed effort cleared off the line by Fábio, while centre-half Tozer brought the save of the match out of United’s Pole in goal with a powerful header.

The one big moment of the second forty-five minutes came down the other end however. Cameron Stewart, on as a sub for Brown (who came through the first half unscathed) flew down the right wing and fizzed across
a low centre. Tozer was slow to react, and only did so after the much more alert Martin had nipped in front of him and toed the ball away. Martin was sent flying and there were no complaints from the visitors as Mr Bond pointed to the spot.

Fábio had no hesitation in stepping up and taking the responsibility, despite having missed his last spot-kick in the LSC win over Rochdale. Whether he’ll be so keen to take the next one that comes along remains to be seen though, as his penalty was comfortably saved by Krul. It was reasonably well-struck by the Brazilian teenager, but neither the direction or height posed a problem for the keeper once he’d guessed the right way. It must be said that Krul was several yards off his line by the time Fábio took his kick, but in truth the penalty wasn’t of sufficient quality to really make that of any significance.

You sensed that things might peter out after that and a point apiece would be the final outcome, and despite United continuing to seek the winner and the otherwise excellent Tošić spurning one decent chance in the last few minutes, that was indeed the end result. As Lee Martin confirmed in his post-match interview with MUTV, United will be a tad disappointed not to have taken all three points from a game they definitely had the better of, but nevertheless the Reds are still in the driving seat to claim second place in the league. A win in next week’s final fixture, home against champions Sunderland, will do just that.

1. Tomasz Kuszczak
2. Richard Eckersley
3. Fábio da Silva
4. Corry Evans (c)
5. Oliver Gill
6. Wes Brown (16. Cameron Stewart 46)
7. Matt James
8. Danny Drinkwater
9. Darron Gibson (14. Magnus Eikrem 63)
10. Lee Martin
11. Zoran Tošić

Subs not used
12. Joe Dudgeon
13. Ben Amos
15. Robbie Brady

Booked: Gibson

Referee: D Bond

Attendance: 553

One Response to “United 1 Newcastle 1: Reserves frustrated as wonder-strike earns the Toon a point”

  1. martinForFirstTeam said

    what about martin and tosic?
    how was their performance?

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