Club Focus – Newcastle – Shola saves blushes as N’Zogbia haunts former club

A late leveller from defender Fabricio Coloccini prevented Newcastle from suffering yet another defeat at St James’ Park. Captain for the day Coloccini scored in the final minute of stoppage time to rescue a point after going 2-0 down in the first half. Charles N’Zogbia was a thorn in the home team’s side all afternoon, as he looked to impress against his former employers.

The 24 year old joined Wigan in the January 2009 transfer window following an acrimonious falling out with then manager Joe Kinnear. N’Zogbia scored twice in the space of two minutes to silence the fans who booed him on his return to his former stamping ground. Both goals came about from poor defensive play as the normally reliable Mike Williamson and right back James Perch were guilty of not picking up the Frenchman. Perch produced another unconvincing display on the right side of defence as N’Zogbia repeatedly ran rings around him. With last season’s occupant Danny Simpson stepping up his recovery from injury a change in personnel must be in manager’s Chris Hughton’s mind. When Perch left the pitch to be substituted on 89 minutes he was subjected to a number of jeers by frustrated home supporters.

Despite just shading possession against Wigan the home side were once again lacking in ideas going forward. N’Zogbia showed what they were missing with a display of pace and craft not always apparent when he was a St James’ Park player. Hughton made changes to his first XI that a number of fans and pundits had been crying out for. Striker Peter Lovenkrands was given a start alongside Andy Carroll as Hughton reverted to last season’s 4-4-2 formation. There was no place in the eighteen at all for captain Kevin Nolan. Newcastle struggled to create many notable chances in the first hour and it was only when Shola Ameobi was introduced that they looked more potent going forward. Ameobi again showed his worth to the team with a well taken header to make it 2-1. With two big men up front Newcastle were able to take the upper hand against their tiring opponents with a more direct style of play. Winger Jonas Gutierrez got better as the game wore on and both of Newcastle’s goals came from good deliveries by the Argentinean.

Newcastle appear to be a different side when playing at their north-east home compared to their strong showings on the road. Although it is still early in the season a lack of wins at home points to a long hard campaign to avoid relegation. However the battling spirit that was very much evident in last season’s promotion run still appears to be a part of the side. After the game Hughton said: “What we have got in this side is great character, that I am aware of. We know we are in a tougher division, but this is somewhere that became very much a fortress for us last season. The only way to get back to anywhere near that is to draw out results in whichever way we have to.

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