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Match Report: Newcastle United 1-0 QPR (A Newcastle Fan's Perspective)

Tuesday 17th January 2012
A single shot on target was enough for Newcastle to move above Liverpool and up to 6th in the league, as a dominating display saw them hold out a QPR side looking to impress in their first game for new manager Mark Hughes.

One absentee for the visitors was former-Newcastle man Joey Barton, who was serving the 2nd match of a three game suspension for the red card he received against Norwich.

In truth, his presence would have made little difference to a Rangers side that floundered in front of goal, wasting numerous decent opportunities throughout the game without ever looking like a threat to Newcastle's clean sheet. For Newcastle, there were 2 enforced changes to the side that beat Man Utd, with Demba Ba and Cheick Tiote joining up with their respective countries for African Cup of Nations duty. Coming in were Leon Best and Danny Guthrie – both of whom were highly impressive.

The game opened in worrying fashion for the home side, as QPR looked more than up for this one, pressing Newcastle from front to back, stopping the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Fabricio Coloccini from picking out passes and forcing them to go long to the two big men up front.

After 15 minutes, QPR managed their first dangerous effort at Krul's goal. Ryan Taylor, closed down when attempting to clear the ball in his own half, scuffed the ball straight into the path of Shaun Wright-Philips, whose half volley was struck sweetly, but also curling away from goal, and grazed the top of the bar.

Less than five minutes later, and the next big incident of the game came about. Sean Derry, who was showing his age (50?), looked totally off the pace as he gave the ball away in his own half, and then lunged into the on-rushing Cabaye with studs showing.

The nasty challenge clearly left a bad taste in the Frenchman's mouth, who jumped up to remonstrate his feelings to Derry before dropping back to the floor. Had he stayed on the floor, it may well have been a red card coming out of the referee's pocket, just as it had the weekend earlier for Vincent Kompany from the same referee. As it was, Cabaye was stretchered off and replaced by Ben Arfa, and Derry remained on the pitch.

QPR continued to try and bully Newcastle throughout the game with rash challenges, but it didn't make much difference in the end as they lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.

Just after the half hour mark, QPR had their next good chance in front of goal. This time it fell to alleged former-Newcastle target Jay Bothroyd. The striker showed good feet to cut inside Ben Arfa before curling a good effort off the outside of the far post.

Five minutes later, QPR were punished for their inability to put the ball in the back of the net. Leon Best, who spent half a season on loan with QPR a few years ago, showed them what they had missed out on, as he took a good touch inside the box, before showing excellent footwork to get inside his marker, and he finished off by coolly placing the ball in the bottom corner past Paddy Kenny.

The second half was strikingly similar to the first, with Newcastle looking assured and in control without making too many chances for themselves. A couple of great chances for Bothroyd in the opening 10 minutes, including a relatively easy volley from 10 yards out, were squandered.

From then on, the game was over, with Newcastle looking the most likely to grab a second, and they almost did so thanks to a stunning through ball by Ben Arfa which put in Leon Best, who unsuccessfully tried to play the ball across goal for Shola Ameobi rather than take on the shot himself from a tight angle.

Keeper Paddy Kenny was almost embarrassed by Newcastle soon after, as he struggled to avoid conceding a corner, only to give Newcastle an opportunity to take a quick throw in, and with the goal open, Jonas' effort was more like a cross as it failed to make it to the 6 yard box before being cleared. It made little difference, however, as QPR were unable to create any more chances, and Newcastle ended the game with yet another clean sheet, leaving them one away from equalling last season's record with 17 games still to be played.

A display not seen very often on Tyneside, at least not in my 21 years, was a rare treat for Newcastle fans, as the side dominated for about 70 minutes. While all the talk was about who was missing prior to the game, it was their replacements, in Danny Guthrie and Leon Best, who stole the show.

Other highlights from the game were Davide Santon, who looks set to be every bit as good as former favourite Jose Enrique at left back, Gutierrez, who was yet again the hardest working man on the field, and Shola Ameobi, whose role was vital to the team, as he came deep for the ball and held onto it well. All in all, far from a classic, but a well deserved three points.

Greg Larmouth

Total articles: 9

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