Game #4843 

Season | 2003-04 |

Matchday | #41 |
League Game | #34 |
Premier League Match-week | #32 |  
Manager Game | #41 |
Sunday, 18 April 2004
Premier League | Home | Newcastle United | Villa Park | 40,786 | 

Game Summary

Manager | David O’Leary | 

KO | 14.00 |
Referee | Barry Knight | 
HT Score | 0-0 |
FT Score | 0-0 |
FT Result | Drew |
Last 5 Games | WDDWD | 

League Position | 6th | - |

Line Up |

GK Thomas Sörensen |
RB Ulises de la Cruz |
BOOKED | 35' |
CB Olof Mellberg |
CB Ronny Johnsen | 
SUB OFF | 88' |
FB Jlloyd Samuel |
M Gareth Barry |
M Lee Hendrie |
M Thomas Hitzlsperger |
W Nolberto Solano | 
SUB OFF | 69' |
F Darius Vassell |
CF Peter Crouch |
SUB OFF | 62' |

Substitutes |

F Marcus Allbäck for CF Peter Crouch | 62’ | 
W Peter Whittingham for W Nolberto Solano | 69’ |  
CB Ridgewell for CB Ronny Johnsen | 88’ |

Unused Substitutes |

RB Mark Delaney 
GK Stefan Postma 

Cards | 

 Yellow | Ulises de la Cruz | 35’ |

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 26.43 | 

Oldest Player | CB Ronny Johnsen | 34.88 |

Youngest Player | M Thomas Hitzlsperger | 22.05 |

Match Report

The Guardian

Monday, 19 April, 2004

Match report by John Brodkin

Sir Bobby Robson could not celebrate last night as he would have liked. Newcastle may have picked up a useful point after playing with 10 men for 80 minutes but it came at a high price. 

With Craig Bellamy injuring a hamstring which could keep him out for the rest of the season, the club’s hopes of winning the Uefa Cup and finishing fourth in the Premiership have been damaged.

Robson said Bellamy would be out “for weeks” and a scan will determine the full extent of the problem. Jermaine Jenas also faces weeks on the sidelines, according to the manager, after picking up a thigh injury. This was hardly what Robson wanted ahead of the Uefa Cup semi-final against Marseille, which starts at St James’ Park on Thursday; his worries do not end there.

Kieron Dyer finished with a thigh strain which makes him doubtful for Thursday and Shola Ameobi, an obvious replacement for Bellamy, might not be fit because of a thigh problem which forced him to miss this game. 

As Robson assessed his wounded, the doggedness Newcastle had shown to strengthen their Champions League push and damage Villa’s seemed secondary. The injury to Bellamy will cause most consternation. As the Welshman hobbled towards the touchline after injuring himself while trying to sprint past Ronny Johnsen, Robson shook his head, waved his arms and paced his technical area. Bellamy’s pace and goals have been valuable to Newcastle since he returned from a knee injury in February and now Alan Shearer’s best strike partner is out again as the season reaches its climax.

If Ameobi fails to recover for Thursday there could be a rare start up front for Michael Bridges, who came on here as a substitute. The need for Shearer to avoid a booking against Marseille can hardly be overstated; a yellow card would bring him a one-game European ban.

On the bright side for Robson, Newcastle’s defiance after Andy O’Brien’s dismissal enabled them to retain the advantage in the battle for a Champions League qualifying spot. They are behind Liverpool only on goals scored with a game in hand and finish the season at Anfield.

Changing to a gameplan built around deep defence once O’Brien saw red early on for pushing Darius Vassell as the Villa striker sprinted to goal, Newcastle restricted their opponents to few chances. Villa showed a desperate lack of invention and were too keen to hit a killer pass before half-time when patience might have served them better. Yet there could be no mistaking the grit shown by Robson’s team.

Jonathan Woodgate and Aaron Hughes were excellent at centre-half, with Hughes particularly impressive after being moved there from right-back. He was, however, fortunate the referee Barry Knight ruled out a “goal “ by Vassell in first-half stoppage-time, deciding Hughes had been fouled by the striker when the Northern Ireland international had in fact tripped over his own feet.
Ahead of them Gary Speed epitomised Newcastle’s spirit as he protected a back four in which Dyer did a decent a job as an emergency right-back.


“I’m proud of the players,” Robson said. “It was a measure of our enthusiasm, guts, commitment, work ethic and discipline that we were not going to concede all afternoon unless it was something magical. We played with 10 players and Shay Given hasn’t really made a save.”

Robson was upset with the red card, though he stressed he felt Knight had otherwise done a good job. Vassell was too quick for O’Brien, who had a start of at least a yard as they chased Thomas Hitzlsperger’s long ball but the defender seemed to haul him to the ground.

“Both have pace and both have fallen over as it’s happened,” Robson said. “And we didn’t get the benefit of the doubt. The referee

has to be absolutely sure and you can’t be sure.”

Newcastle were happy to waste time but Villa can hardly blame that for their failure to capitalise. They did not pass well enough

and rarely threatened to find a way through. Gareth Barry underperformed, though he was not alone. It was a measure of Villa’s frustration that there were second-half flashpoints, notably involving Speed and Lee Hendrie. Hendrie wasted a first-half chance and Vassell’s strike ought to have been allowed but it was not all Villa pressure.

Shearer spurned a chance just before the interval and Newcastle controlled the early part of the second half, with Hugo Viana drawing a save from Thomas Sorensen. The Portuguese had come on for Laurent Robert, whose lack of defensive fight had allowed Villa to attack down their right. Apart from a header by Marcus Allback and a late shot by Hendrie, Villa created little in the second half as Newcastle stuck to their task.

“[Villa ] beat Chelsea last week with [Chelsea having ] 11 players and we have drawn with 10,” said Robson. “How proud am I of my players.” He also has much to worry about. 

*The race for fourth*

*Aston Villa*
Odds on finishing fourth 13-2
*Apr 24* Middlesbrough (a) *May 2* Tottenham (h) *May 8* Southampton (a) *May 15* Man Utd (h)


Odds 11-10
*Apr 25* Chelsea (h) *May 1* Man City (a) *May 8* Wolves (h) *May 12* Southampton (a) *May 15* Liverpool (a)


Odds 9-4
*Apr 24* Man Utd (a) *May 2* Middlesbrough (h) *May 8* Birmingham (a) *May 15* Newcastle (h)


*What fourth place means:*

With each position in the Premiership separated by over £500,000, a fourth-place finish would earn more than £8.5m. Just getting into the Champions League group stage is lucrative in itself. Even an unsuccessful attempt to get past the initial hurdle would earn a team about £2.5m Uefa also shares out its television rights package between the 32 participating clubs, which, along with gate receipts and other revenue, could be worth up to £55m.