What was supposed to be a relatively straight-forward pre-season fixture against Darlington turned into a shameful farce last night thanks to a minority of fans.
First up, Managing Director, Derek Llambias was verbally abused by a number of fans in a bar before the match. That’s not so bad and is kind of to be expected given the feelings that are going around at the moment, but it’s not ideal.
No doubt we’ll now get the old “I can’t go to a bar without getting shouted at” routine which will probably just annoy him further and make him do something else we don’t like eventually in my opinion. It wasn’t the worst part of the night either…
That came early in the second half, just after Sammy Ameobi scored his first senior Magpie goal when some sections of the Newcastle support saw fit to run onto the pitch. Violence broke out between the two sets of fans which resulted in the match being temporarily abandoned and saw Alan Pardew, John Carver, Joey Barton and Alan Smith plead with fans to return to the stands.
I will stress that Darlington weren’t blameless in all this, but it’s unacceptable behaviour all the same. I can only hope that the club follow through the words they released in a statement late last night. It read:
“On behalf of everyone at Newcastle United, we wholly condemn the behaviour of a number of our supporters who invaded the pitch during the second half of the club’s friendly against Darlington.”
“The club will be seeking to obtain footage of the disorder from Darlington and the police and will be taking the strongest possible action against those individuals responsible for the shameful behaviour. This behaviour is not typical of the vast majority of our fans, however this incident gives a poor impression of Newcastle United and its loyal supporters.”
A lifetime ban for a moment of madness is fine by me. Those 500 or so fans ruined it for the majority last night so they deserve all they get in my opinion.
Moving onto the football, it was a pretty comfortable match in the end. Joey Barton put the away side a goal up in the opening minutes after Leon Best knocked Alan Smith’s cross into the path of Barton who finished from just a couple of yards out.
Speaking of Leon Best, he looked pretty sharp and tested the Darlington goalkeeper on numerous occasions without finding the back of the net. Kind of makes you wonder why the club are apparently happy to sell him but hey-ho.
Hatem Ben Arfa made his first start since that fateful day at Manchester City last season and came through 73 minutes unscathed. He showed some good touches but in fairness the game was always going to be more about his fitness than the performance. Crucially he rode the tackles well and got up everytime, which was my main concern, and he even had a hand in Sammy Ameobi’s goal on 55 minutes.
Yohan Cabaye came on earlier than anticipated as Danny Guthrie left the field with what is thought to be some form of hamstring injury. The debutant looked neat and tidy and showed the footballing intelligence that Alan Pardew has been raving about at times.
Shane Ferguson started the match but was withdrawn at half-time because of an as yet unspecified injury. All I’ll say is that it can’t be that bad if he managed to make it through until half-time. Naturally we’ll have to wait and see what the official line is, but I’d like to hope that it’s nothing too serious.
All in all, trouble aside, it was a decent run out for the team and all but two substitutes were used in the end. Sammy Ameobi impressed the most from what I’ve read of people. His directness and clever play was backed up by a cool finish to give him the goal that kicked it all off. It’s just a shame that his first senior goal was followed by a group of idiots running onto the pitch. Still, hopefully there will be a load more goals to follow so he’ll soon forget about it.
Howay the lads! Apart from the 500 or so arseholes….
NUFC Fraser Forster, Danny Simpson (Paul Dummett), Steven Taylor (James Tavernier), Mike Williamson (Jeff Henderson), Shane Ferguson (Ryan Taylor), Joey Barton (Mehdi Abeid), Danny Guthrie (Yohan Cabaye, Ryan Donaldson), Alan Smith (Dan Gosling), Haris Vuckic (Sammy Ameobi), Hatem Ben Arfa (Michael Richardson), Leon Best (Nile Ranger).