Highlights from yesterday evening’s monkey hanger massacre at Victoria Park. There are also some other highlights here.
Hartlepool United were trounced 5-1 with Shola Ameobi opening the account for Newcastle after only 3 minutes, latching on to an irresistable low cross right across the face of the Hartlepool goal by new lad, Romain Amalfitano. Sadly though, the big lad picked up some kind of knock just before half time and was out of the game for the second half.
Only a minute later, there was another Anglo – French partnership. This time, Shola did the honours for the assist almost straight from the restart. After chasing down a long punt down the left flank, he showed exquisite skill with a delicate sidefoot lob over ‘Pool goalkeeper, Scott Flinders, who was many yards off his line by now. Picking up where he left off on the other side of the goalie, he then slid in a low cross to Marveaux who was waiting on the far post. Marveaux somehow managed to hit the post at first despite being at point blank range, though there was a gaggle of ‘Pool defender to thread it through. All was well though when he doubled the tally on the rebound with the first of two goals for the pocket French rocket. Hartlepool United 0 – 2 Newcastle United.
Big Sho was generally causing chaos in the monkey hangers box in what was an excellent performance from the Fenham Eusebio until his appearence was sadly curtailed, leaving us with only two proper first team strikers in the squad now if his injury doesn’t clear up pretty sharpish. Only six minutes after the second goal though, Dan Gosling had the ball in the back of the net once again in what was a very attacking performance overall from the usually more defensive midfielder; though it was ruled offside this time. Not to worry though, the Magpies were three up after twelve minutes. Amalfitano once again crossed the ball in to Ameobi, only for the big lad to be felled like a Giant Sequoia in the Hartlepool area by Scott Flinders. The resulting penalty was duly dispatched by Marveaux for his second goal. Hartlepool United 0 – 3 Newcastle United.
Things went fairly quiet then for the rest of the half with the Magpies comfortably in control. On the restart though, it was Ben Arfa’s turn to show a bit of Gallic flair after trotting on for the second half in place of Steven Taylor. Haris Vuckic was also on for the second half, and interestingly, seemed to be playing as a full striker in place of the crocked Ameobi this time.
It only took a few minutes for Benny to prove that the old magic was still there with some great play. Firstly, he almost got himself a goal after 51 minutes after some good work from Vuckic, who cut in to crack one off himself, only for his effort to strike a Hartlepool defender. The rebound fell straight to the feet of Ben Arfa, though his shot (from around ten yards out) was saved by Flinders. Newcastle’s next attack, led by Ben Arfa again was more successful though. After one of his trademark runs at Hartlepool down the centre of the pitch, he attempted to play in Amalfitano on the right. Though the ball was intercepted, once again, a rebound fell kindly for Newcastle, and Haris Vuckic, who lofted a lovely lob over Flinders for the Magpies’ fourth goal. Hartlepool United 0 – 4 Newcastle United.
Though the game continued with more good work from Newcastle, it was Hartlepool who were the next to strike with a consoltion goal in midst of all the Magpie mayhem. The decision to award a free kick against the newly arrived Abeid seemed somewhat harsh in the first place. When Anthony Sweeney latched on to the resulting free kick, putting the ball past Steve Harper in wor goal. The Mags cried “Offside!” too, but what the hell! Hartlepool United 1 – 4 Newcastle United.
Much of the rest of the game saw a succession of substitutions from both teams which broke up the flow perhaps, with all of the Newcastle United bench getting a go at some point, though of course, that is what these friendly games are all about. As if the game wasn’t already over, one of thise later subs, Gabriel Obertan made the rout complete with a powerful, low diagonal shot from just inside the box in what was a very frisky cameo overall from the flying Squid. Final score: Hartlepool United 1 – 5 Newcastle United.
So, there were some very encouraging performances overall, albeit against League One opposition. Before I go, it should be mentioned in dispatches that it was good to see a much improved performance from Vuckic after some rather rusty ones in previous friendlies, which of course is understandable with his time out with seemingly endless injury as well as the usual close season break.
Hartlepool United (4-4-2): Scott Flinders (G) Neil Austin (C), Peter Hartley, Jack Baldwin, Evan Horwood (Darren Holden 46); Jonathan Franks (Ben Wignall 87), Simon Walton (Paul Murray 67), Antony Sweeney, Andy Monkhouse (Nathan Luscombe 75); Luke James (James Poole 75), Steve Howard.
Subs: Paul Murray, Nathan Luscombe, Darren Holden, James Poole, Ryan Tuck, Ben Wignall
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Steve Harper (G, Jak Alnwick 84) Danny Simpson (Curtis Good 73), Steven Taylor (Hatem Ben Arfa 46), Mike Williamson, James Tavernier; James Perch (Ryan Taylor 73), Gael Bigirimana (Mehdi Abeid 60) Romain Amalfitano (Davide Santon 80), Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux (Gabriel Obertan 78) Shola Ameobi (C, Haris Vuckic HT). (C)
Subs: Jak Alnwick (G), Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor, Curtis Good, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic, Hatem Ben Arfa, Gabriel Obertan.
Goals: Shola Ameobi (3), Sylvain Marveaux (4, 12 (Pen)), Haris Vuckic (53), Anthony Sweeney (62), Gabriel Obertan (85).
Referee: David Webb,
Attendance: 4802 (about half of ‘em Geordies)