Club Focus – Newcastle United – Allardyce returns to haunt former employers

Sam Allardyce was able to enjoy a rare moment of joy at St James’ Park as his Blackburn side came up with a late winner to secure a 2-1 victory. The result meant that Blackburn extended their winning run on Tyneside to five consecutive games. Despite having most of the possession Newcastle failed to conjure up few chances as they yet again failed to perform in a game most bookmakers expected them to win. It continued the trend that has blighted Newcastle’s season so far as they have struggled to break down teams’ intent on defending deep then playing on the counter attack.

One of the themes from Wednesday night’s game was Newcastle’s players doing the opposite to what they have done all season. Cheik Tiote, who previously had been one of Newcastle’s star players, gave the ball away inside his own penalty area for the opener. The winning goal also came from a defensive slip-up that has almost become a thing of the past under Chris Hughton’s regime. The normally reliable duo of Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini were both culpable of falling asleep to let Jason Roberts in to score against the run of play. With plenty of options in his squad Hughton may look to freshen things up in the Magpies’ next few games.

Another player to blot his copybook on the back of some fine form over the past few months was Joey Barton. It had appeared that Barton had turned over a new leaf recently and had matured both on and off the pitch. His recent displays have been worthy of an England call-up and he provided another assist by teeing up Andy Carroll for the equaliser. But he spoiled his recent progress by needlessly punching Morten Gamst Pedersen in an off-the-ball incident. Although the incident went unpunished as the referee failed to spot it the FA have charged Barton with violent conduct. Barton has until 1800 GMT on Friday to respond and if found guilty he will face a three match ban. Although Hughton did not defend Barton’s actions he hopes that his previous misdemeanours will not count against him. Speaking on Thursday he said: “I have seen it again and I am aware that he has raised his hands. But I am also very conscious that because it’s Joey Barton, there will be far more made of it than any other individual.”

Newcastle will be hoping lightning does not strike twice in a week when they have another home game on Saturday, this time against Fulham. It will be another game the home side will be expected to win on current form with 10 places separating the two sides. The last time the two sides met a 1-0 win for Fulham all but condemned Newcastle to a place in the Championship. Shola Ameobi is a doubt with a minor hamstring injury after being substituted at half time against Blackburn. Nile Ranger could be in line to start his first Premier League game after some impressive cameos off the bench in recent weeks.

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