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Big Dunc foils the Geordies


By Chris Kirwan
September 14 2003

A late penalty by Duncan Ferguson salvaged a point for the Blues in a controversial clash where the ref was determined to be the main figure…

Moyes made a several changes to the side defeated by Liverpool a fortnight ago. Kilbane came in for his debut, Gravesen returned, and Hibbert was handed his first start of the season. Deadline day signings Jeffers and Martyn were on the bench.

Jeffers did not have to wait long for his return. Rooney was injured in a clash with Olivier Bernard, and after attempting to run off the injury had to admit defeat on the half hour. Moyes revealed after the game that the injury (a sprained ankle) is not serious: "He will train next week and we shall see how it goes. These things happen, it was nothing to do with the challenge.”

This came after Nigel Martyn had also been thrust into action. Richard Wright struggled with the knee injury that had forced a late fitness test. Wright seems to be extremely injury prone for a goalkeeper, so perhaps Martyn may get more action than expected.

Wright and Rooney were not the only players to leave the pitch early in the first half. Laurent Robert was red-carded for fouls on Tony Hibbert and Tobias Linderoth, a decision that Sir Bobby Robson found a little harsh: "It may have been a foul but it was not malicious."

Despite the numerical advantage the Blues were struggling. Moyes reflected after the game that it was the failure to control the game despite having an extra man that was the most disappointing aspect: “When they went down to ten men we didn’t do enough. We should have done better than we did do and that was the period in which I think we lost the game. We didn’t take the initiative. We have to do better.”

And it was Newcastle who were the team to take the initiative. Dyer raced onto a long ball, and Naysmith desperate lunge upended the Newcastle man resulting in a penalty and a red card. Shearer blasted the resultant penalty home.

With the numbers evened up Moyes made an ambitious change throwing on one former Newcastle man for another. Duncan Ferguson replaced Steve Watson, and the Blues were level within minutes. After a penalty appeal at the Gwladys Street End the ball broke to Radzinski who stuck the ball into the net off the post.

But Newcastle went back into the lead when the Blues conceded their 5th penalty of the season in their 5th game. Joseph Yobo was the culprit, making slight contact with Olivier Bernard. The Frenchman made the most of it, but so would a player in a Blue shirt later on. Yobo can be a fine player, but he has to eradicate such clumsy moments in the box. A similar mistake by Yobo at the Valley presented Jason Euell with a brace of penalties, and Shearer matched Euell with another textbook penalty.

But the Blues struck back with time running out. Radzinski skinned Jenas down the Everton left and tumbled when he felt contact from the young Newcastle midfielder. Sir Bobby felt slightly aggrieved at the decision: “J J felt that Radzinski took advantage of the situation. It wasn't a penalty." But like Yobo’s at the Park End, it was a naïve challenge to attempt, and most Premiership strikers looking to level matters in the dying embers of the game would mirror Radzinski. In the absence of David Unsworth it was Big Dunc who took responsibility, and he thumped the ball into the top right hand corner.

Moyes admitted that the Blues once again lacked craft, and perhaps we’ll have to wait until January and the potential arrival of Sean Davis to see some guile in the Blues midfield. He felt that the performance failed to live up to the high standards that he sets, but nonetheless was relieved to avoid two home defeats on the trot. He told www.evertonfc.com after the game: "I was delighted that we ended up getting a point, because with five minutes to go we weren't getting anything from a game which I thought we certainly deserved to get something from.

"Whether we were going to do enough to win it is something else, but overall getting a point was pleasing and I told the players that but it wasn't the way I wanted us to perform."

The Blues face another North-East side next, travelling to Middlesbrough for a televised clash and I’m sure the Newcastle fans wouldn’t mind another Radzinski tumble. The Blues will have to improve, but will benefit from a week untouched by international call-ups.

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