Newcastle cruised to a relatively easy 3-0 victory in the final leg of their US tour last night.
Goals from Shola Ameobi, Fabricio Coloccini and Haris Vuckic did the damage but it was the performance against a team that was supposed to be the toughest opponents on the tour that perhaps impressed the most.
Newcastle took the lead early doors when Shola Ameobi gave the visitors the lead in the 9th minute after capitalising on a defensive error and cooly slotted past Columbus Crew ‘keeper Andy Gruenebaum. A succession of chances for Newcastle followed as they set about taking hold of the game although unfortunately they were unable to extend the lead.
Dan Gosling looked good in the middle of the park and was at the heart of a lot of our good build up play. Demba Ba still looked rusty although he was getting into the right places and caused a few problems for the Crew defence whilst Jose Enrique seemed to put Twittergate behind him and just get on with the job in hand.
In a first half that was dominated by the away side it looked as though there would only be the one goal and one real talking point as the match headed towards half time, but that changed on 44 minutes when Demba Ba raced raced clear of the home defence and took the ball round Gruenebaum in the Columbus goal only to be denied by the hands of the keeper. Unfortunately for Columbus this happened outside of the penalty area and resulted in a red card for the keeper.
Newcastle nearly extended the lead early in the second half when Dan Gosling poked wide under pressure from a Jose Enrique cross, but a further breakthrough wasn’t long in coming. Demba Ba forced a corner which Sylvain Marveaux fired into the box for Fabricio Coloccini to fire home from ten yards after a penalty box scramble. It was Captain Colo’s last input as he was withdrawn to be replaced by Paul Dummett.
Dan Gosling had a couple of chances to extend the lead but was denied by combinations of goalkeeper saves and defensive clearances, but it was the introduction of another young lad who has been troubled with injury that was perhaps the brightest spot of the night.
Haris Vuckic replaced Sylvain Marveaux on 74 minutes after the Frenchman took a knock and was taken off as a precaution. The young Slovenian then set about throwing his name into the hat for consideration for a place in the first team with an excellent 20 or so minutes of clever play and inventiveness.
First off Haris glided past a couple of Crew players before exchanging a one-two with Alan Smith. With Smith being generally crap he wasn’t on the same wavelength and the move broke down. Vuckic then set up Best with a clever square ball only for the Republic of Ireland striker to be called offside as he was rounding the keeper. Vuckic sent in a cracking cross which was met by the head of Dan Gosling who had his effort on goal saved at the second time of asking by the substitute Columbus goalkeeper.
The best was yet to come though when in stoppage time Vuckic made it 3-0. The young Slovenian picked up the ball on the edge of the Columbus penalty area and knocked the ball inside before curling a superb effort into the top left corner of the net. Not even a hand from Konopka was enough to stop it such was the quality of the strike.
That was just about the last action of the match as the final whistle blew. 3-0 to Newcastle.
Bright spots for me were Dan Gosling who once again stood out as one of the best performers, Haris Vuckic, obviously, Sylvain Marveaux who had a good game and looked threatening throughout. Also Jose Enrique, who could have shrunk after his Twitter outburst on Sunday, impressed. It was nice to hear of Pardew and Enrique having a little cuddle at the full time whistle. Bless.
All in all a good work out, a good result, some goals, and no serious injuries. Not a bad evening! Newcastle will now fly home from the States before heading to Elland Road on Sunday to face Leeds in what will be our penultimate pre-season game. I’ll be there, as will Marktoon, Jobey07, Jay Jay and Dan4Toon among others in what is looking likely to be an NUFC Blog writers jolly out. I can’t wait.
Howay the lads!
NUFC Starting XI: Steve Harper, James Tavernier, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique. Jonas Gutierrez, Cheik Tiote, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux. Shola Ameobi, Demba Ba.
Substitutes: Tim Krul, Fraser Forster, Paul Dummett, Alan Smith, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic, Leon Best.