Blues Res 1 Newcastle Res 1 .. IPF Reports

Last updated : 06 January 2005 By IPFreely

Tonight’s report is really little more than half a report. Why? Because I missed the first half hour of the game, owing to having to assist Ms. Freely’s 11-year-old with his maths homework. We had to make a dodecahedron out of two pieces of card (editors note: for any Villa fans reading; a dodecahedron is NOT a type of dinosaur).

Anyhow, we arrived at a crowded Solihull Borough ground just in time to see Blues score. A sweeping move ended with the ever-improving Matt ‘Bugsy’ Birley driving the ball past Tony Caig in the Newcastle goal. The bloke next to me told me this was the first goal. I don’t have any more info, so I shall assume that was Blues’ only goal of the evening.

Robbie – is the strain beginning to show?
And so to the Robbie Savage Show. About three times the normal Solihull crowd had turned up – I reckon there were two to three thousand there. A solitary scrawled banner behind one goal said something like ‘Sav U let us down’. A few voices heckled him from the sidelines. There were three, yes three, film crews around the place, cameras generally fixed on Robert, except when they were pulling punters over to solicit their views on (quote) ‘the Robbie Savage Situation’. As for the man himself, he had a fairly quiet game, by his standards, he generally stuck to a defensive midfield role, won the ball and calmly laid it backwards or sidewards to the kids around him. I heard him take some stick from a fellow in the crowd when he came over to take a throw-in, his being referred to as a ‘feckin’ Gypo’.

He ignored the chap concerned. Although he generally played the game at about 70% of Robbie Pace, there was one notable incident in the second half when he led a charge into the Newcastle box, the move broke down and then he sprinted 80 yards back down the pitch, outpacing everyone else, in order to break up the resulting counter attack. Overall, he looked uncharacteristically quiet and thoughtful.

The game wasn’t much to speak of. A cold, strong cross wind was playing havoc with any attempt to play football. Newcastle weren’t offering much, despite having one of my favourite players (James Milner) and Darren Ambrose in their ranks. Blues weren’t really a lot better, although they did pass the ball around more effectively and tried to use the wingers Motteram and Birley as much as possible. Birley did well, but Motteram fell over the ball at least three times. Motty seems to be having a difficult patch at the moment, but I have absolutely no doubt he’ll sort it out and get back to the way he played last season.

Sav aside, the other notable player on show from Blues point of view was Njazi Kuqi, making his debut in a blue shirt. Not having played for three months, he looked pretty ring rusty. He’s a big raw-boned lad, a little awkward in style but hardworking and good at linking up play. His first touch was a bit iffy but that’s probably due as much to lack of match practice as anything else. As long as he knows how to score a goal, I, for one, couldn’t care if he can’t trap a bag of cement.

Half time and the start of the second half was characterized by Ms. Freely’s 11-year old deciding to explore the delights of the sweet shop and the burger bar. That kept him entertained for about half an hour, something, frankly, the game was never likely to achieve.

Newcastle scored an equalizer after 78 minutes. A hopeful hoof upfield caught the Blues defence napping, leaving Lewis Guy free to burst through and lob Vaesen from just inside the area. Lewis Guy – what a splendid name! For oldies like me it seems somehow reminiscent of a lead character from a 70s all-action police drama series, something like The Professionals or The Sweeney. He looks the part, as well.

Kuqi was tiring but still almost managed to nick the game by nipping in behind the defence onto a Birley cross, beating the keeper with a tidy little chip shot but unfortunately saw the ball come back off the post. Not long after that, he was subbed, looking pretty knackered.

Sav was also subbed, about ten minutes from the end. Quite why, I don’t know. Perhaps this was a ploy to give the crowd an opportunity to react? The reaction he got was mixed – about 50/50 booing and applause. He popped into the dugout for a minute or so and then ambled off towards the dressing room but finding himself besieged by little kids wanting his autograph. He spent a good five minutes talking to the kids and signing various proffered scraps of paper.

The game fizzled out, as reserve games often do. The ref (Mr Harris of Lincs, who had a good game) subjected us to about five minutes stoppage time in the ever-increasing gale conditions before granting us mercy and blowing his whistle. Me and the kid clambered into the Freelymobile, turned the heating on full and drove home listening to Heart FM and singing ‘Red, red, wine’.

Blues: Vaesen, Parratt (Blake 72), Davies, Howland, Taylor, Hall, Birley, Savage (Meredith 83), Kuqi (Hamilton 85), Till, Motteram Subs not used: Hamilton, Price.

Newcastle: Caig, Brennan, Cave, Ramage, Huntington, Ambrose (Howe 72), Brittain, McClen, Milner (Farman 72), Guy (Bates 60), Alan O'Brien Subs not used: Bartlett, Webster.