Newcastle 2 West Ham 2
This lonely Hammer is marooned at Jess’s house and baby-warming party in Crystal Palace, surrounded by various members of the Wenban-Smith family, Friends of the Earth types, archaeologists, and people from the Marine Stewardship Council, reliant on Big Joe’s texts from St James’ Park for footie news. The walnut and cream mushrooms are quite good though.
Joe is wondering if he should talk to Our Friends in the North about the latest issue of Granta or last night’s performance of August: Osage County at The National Theatre. However, like the Geordies he is wearing a t-shirt, admittedly beneath three layers of thermals. “Don’t discuss Pinter or put up a brolly in the train queue,” is my advice on how to escape detection as a soft southerner.
As we head back on the train from a frosty Crystal Palace station Joe texts:”2-1 to us — God knows how.”
“We’re winning 2-1 at Newcastle!” I tell my daughters. Although there’s ten minutes left, enough for us to lose knowing WHU. Sure enough, Joe reveals “2-2 Equaliser as soon as last text”.
Mercifully by the time we reach Victoria station I discover we’ve drawn 2-2, another good away point. Joe adds: “Watch Lucas Neill’s own goal tonight on MOTD — if it had gone in it would have been goal of the month.”
Our defence looks ropey early on as Own hits the post. Then Collins slips and Owen shoots low into the corner. But we fight back well, with a fine passing move ending with Parker slipping the ball into Bellamy who chips over Given just to wind up the home fans. Noble has a one-on-one saved by Given as we dominate. the in-demand keeper makes a fantastic one-handed save to deny Collison.
Then, incredibly, Ilunga punts the ball forward and Cole beats the lethargic defence to control the ball on his thigh and volley an unstoppable left foot shot into the top corner as if he’s, well, Gianfranco Zola.
Newcastle press back, and then comes the recommended own goal from Lucas. A marvellous miscue into our top corner that rivals Dowie’s effort for Stockport. Only the ref has spotted a push on James Collins.
Newcastle swing in another cross from the left and the poncily-braided Carroll beats Upson and heads the ball powerfully past Green for his first ever Newcastle goal. In added time Upson makes a fantastic tackle to prevent what looks like a late winner for the Toon.
Good game, iffy defences. The endless Tevezgate saga might be engendering something that smells like team spirit. We’re unbeaten in six away games and we’re still tenth on 26 points with Spurs in the bottom three. The thought occurs that Zola is starting to look like a half-decent manager. He doesn’t panic after a loss, has stuck to his footballing principles and his at times seemingly deranged faith in Carlton Cole appears to be paying off.
Now all we have to do is survive another week in the transfer window.
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