Patience was the order of the day for high flying Newcastle United.
Newcastle’s Captain, Fabricio Coloccini, was back in tandem with his partner in crime ‘Iron’ Mike Williamson at Centre Back and Davide Santon had his place at Left Back. Tiote didn’t make the line-up, so Perch moved into a midfield birth along with Jonas, making a return to midfield also after his recent stint at Left Back.
Bolton lined up in a 4-5-1, which, as the game kicked off, looked more like a 5-4-1. They looked very determined to keep things really tight, and didn’t spend alot of time committing too many forward. To say that the first half was cagey would be understating things somewhat. Words like boring, dull, tight, slow, lacking any coherence, painful, kind of summed it up.
I could actually say no more about it, but…
Newcastle looked ever so slightly more attacking, but the game on Friday had obviously had an effect on the efficacy of the team. We looked jaded.
Whilst employing a 4-3-3 formation, Bolton’s packed defence didn’t make it easy to find a way through. Bolton had played on Saturday, so probably felt even worse, to be fair. It was as if they’d made a pact before the game not to run fast, Newcastle seemed to agree. Nothing was really sticking to Cisse or Ba. It was all midfield. Bolton looked anxious while Newcastle looked frustrated, but couldn’t do much about it. There wasn’t much of quality to wax about.
In terns of “action,” Hatem Ben Arfa looped a dangerous free kick in after 30 minutes, Adam Bogdan punched it straight at Ricketts. It rebounded, but drifted wide of the goal, fortunately for them. It was a turgid affair though. Both teams weren’t creating much whilst stopping the other quite effectively. One thing you could say about the half was that it was mostly played on the floor as opposed to hoofing it up in the air.
A painfully dull half ended without much ado. It couldn’t have got more anodyne.
Half-Time: Newcastle 0 – 0 Bolton.
Newcastle came out for the second half without James Perch, replaced by Shane Ferguson, not sure why as I write this.
Right from the get go it was blatently apparent that Bolton were feeling a lot braver. Flying out of the traps. It was as if they’d been applauded by Owen Coyle for surviving the first half and were under orders to ‘have a go’. They are in the sort of position where if they don’t, they won’t beat the drop this season.
Whatever he’d said during the break had worked. They had a great chance after the ball had bobbled around our box without being cleared, it fell to a Bolton player who shot, but Tim Krul was on his mettle and got down well, kicking it away with his left foot. Great save!
To be honest it looked like if it’d been left for Petrov who was hovering, it would have been a better bet and an almost certain goal, as he was ready, willing and better placed.
Bolton stayed on top for the next 5 minutes, winning a couple of corners. Then, Petrov, their best player on the day, swerved a great cross that flashed right across our goalmouth, though nobody could get a touch on it. Luckily we didn’t tap it in for them either.
By the time the clock had got to the 60 minute mark the frustration was being to ramp up. Though it was a much better spectacle by now. The ref was helping with the crowds frustration by ordering niggly little decisions to the away team. Newcastle were starting to build a bit of a head of steam now, but still, nothing was sticking to Ba or Cisse up top and the ref was giving nothing to them for all the little pushes and pulls, arms and elbows.
Just as I was thinking ‘maybe it’s time for Super Shola?’, no sooner had I thought it, there he was making his languid way onto the pitch to replace Demba Ba. If there’s one thing Shola’s really good at it’s hold up play, stickability, if you will. Humour me!
Ferguson had injected some much needed pace into our game and we were winning a few corners and putting them under some concerted pressure. Most of the corners came to nothing though. After Bolton’s mini revival for the first 5-10 minutes of this half, our defence had bread and butter jobs to do. Tim Krul made his usual timely save though, this time from very close range. Newcastle were getting increasingly more ball now and pushing for an attack of note.
The game was about to turn.
It did so with a turn of brilliance from the mercurial Hatem Ben Arfa, he’d been double teamed all game on the wing, but was starting to forage more centrally. Cabaye fed a ball, Hatem spun a Bolton player in the center circle, pushed it forward for himself, high kicked out of a sliding lunge from another. Piling straight down the middle of the defensive line, was almost clipped as he glided past two more Bolton challenges on the edge of their box, in on the ‘keeper, and then he slotted deftly past Bogdan into the bottom left of the Gallowgate goal.
What a Goal!
Bolton visibly wilted at the sight of that. Newcastle were in the ascendecy now, Shola was winning balls and Bolton were being pulled about. Ten minutes after Hatem’s scorcher, Cabaye again fed a chipped pass down the right to Shola, who himself took a leaf out of Ben Arfa’s book and spun a defender. He was in acres of space now and although he’s not the quickest he bore down on goal towards the right corner of their box. Papiss Cisse was wise to what was going down and made his way to the far stick, like a good
striker does, Shola’s beutifully weighted cross curled away from the ‘keeper, perfectly finding it’s mark in the form of the in rushing Cisse to notch his 10th goal in 9 games with a simple left footed tap in.
Newcastle Unoted 2 – 0 Bolton Wanderers
And game over effectively!
There was still time for Hatem Ben Arfa to be allowed a great reception from the Geordie faithful as he made way for Ryan Taylor. Bolton brought on Ryo Miyaichi, David N’Gog and Ivan Klasnic, and went all out attack but it wasn’t to be as Newcastle saw the game out comfortably.
Full-Time: Newcastle United 2 – 0 Bolton Wanderers
Another great win, another 3 points, another clean sheet, another Cisse goal, and yet another Hatem Ben Arfa super strike!
I’m pretty sure that I heard a rendition of: ‘Walking in a Pardew Wonderland,’ and as the camera panned to focus on Alan Pardew, to me he looked genuinely moved. It’s been a long wait and it is something that the Geordies sing when they mean it!
Not a great game, but we jump above Chelsea and go level on points with Spurs. A few days recovery until we play Stoke.
Howay the Lads!
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Tim Krul (G), Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (C), Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye, James Perch (Shane Ferguson HT), Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa (Ryan Taylor 85), Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba.
Subs: Rob Elliot (G), James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Ryan Taylor, Mehdi Abeid, Dan Gosling, Shola Ameobi.
Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Adam Bogdan (G) Gretar Steinsson, David Wheater, Tim Ream, Sam Ricketts; Chris Eagles (David Ngog 78), Nigel Reo-Coker, Mark Davies, Darren Pratley (Ivan Klasnic 81), Martin Petrov; Kevin Davies (C, Ryo Miyaichi 78).
Subs: Jussi Jaaskelainen (G), Marcos Alonso, Zat Knight, Ryo Miyaichi, Ivan Klasnic, David Ngog, Marvin Sordell.
Match facts, stats etc.
Newcastle United 2, Bolton Wanderers 0.
Goals: Hatem Ben Arfa (72), Papiss Cisse (82).
Yellow cards: Jonas Gutierrez (61), Nigel Reo-Coker (65).
Red cards: None
Possession: Newcastle United 51.45%, Bolton Wanderers 48.55%.
Territorial Advantage: Newcastle United 43.8%, Bolton Wanderers 56.2%.
Shots on target: Newcastle United 3, Bolton Wanderers 3.
Shots off target: Newcastle United 2, Bolton Wanderers 3.
Corners: Newcastle United 6, Bolton Wanderers 5.
Fouls: Newcastle United 7, Bolton Wanderers 18.
Total Passes: Newcastle United 401, Bolton Wanderers 376.
Pass success: Newcastle United 78.6%, Bolton Wanderers 75%.
Tackle success: Newcastle United 90.9%, Bolton Wanderers 56.2%.