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Match Report: Newcastle United 2-0 Bolton Wanderers (Newcastle fan's perspective)

Tuesday 10th April 2012
Crazy times for all Toon fans, I found myself cheering on Fulham last night as they took on Chelsea, when a year ago it may have been the other way around. Of course, it is a joy to behold as I've never really liked Chelsea anyway, but supporting the opposition when they play a team of the standard of the Blues, is a sign that we are competing with them. That, readers, is a great achievement in itself.

It's been two short days since our last game, and indeed my last post, and in the midst all the hype of Easter and the consuming of mass amounts of Chocolate, a game of football was to be played. Coming off the back of yet another sublime win at Swansea, Newcastle welcomed Owen Coyle's Bolton team to Tyneside, who themselves had just been humbled by Fulham after a run of three straight wins. On paper you could be forgiven for thinking that maybe the three points were a formality for us, but hey, even this season, Newcastle United are still an unpredictable proposition.

I'm a man that looks at Newcastle's current formation and thinks, yeah ok we are winning and that's great, but there are still improvements that could be made. Newcastle again set up in that 4-3-3 formation, with Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba supporting star act Papiss Cisse in attack. I disagree here, because it is no secret that Ba isn't too happy with this formation, and why should he be? In my opinion we should switch to a 4-4-2 formation, using Ba and Cisse as a partnership, and giving Ben Arfa a free role on the right hand side. Surely then we would see Ba return to his earlier scoring spree with time, and that added to Cisse's current form, would be difficult for defences to cope with. But hey, I'm not the manager, not yet anyway.

Bolton, quite predictably and understandably after their last outing, went 4-5-1 with Kevin Davies as the lone striker and 10 men behind the ball, a surprise for me was the fact that young winger Ryo Myiachi was left on the bench, because a talent like that could have caused Newcastle so many problems, especially up against Davide Santon, who as good as he is - is on his wrong foot - a possible weakness that could have been exploited by the pace and trickery from the Japanese youngster.

The game's pace was set from the first whistle, and it was obvious that extraneous variables such as the weather and fatigue were going to have an effect on how the game was to pan out. Even so, Newcastle had had an extra day to prepare for this game, as well as being the home team, so we should have been more penetrating than we were. It was quite clear that despite their surprise inclusions, Yohan Cabaye and Fabricio Coloccini were not fully fit. It was especially noticable with Cabaye, as Newcastle didn't have control of the game in the midfield, isolating Ba, Cisse and Ben Arfa early on, and playing right into Bolton's hands. Cheick Tiote, as we already knew, wasn't fit enough to play in this game, meaning James Perch deputised. As well as 'Perchino' has played this term when called upon, he is just not in the same class as Tiote, which could also have been a contributing factor to Newcastle's poor first half display.

I stressed to the supporters around me that, if Bolton were more adventurous (playing the likes of, oh I don't know... Ryo Myiachi?!) they could have caused us many more problems than they actually did. Even so, Martin Petrov, Chris Eagles and Kevin Davies did look dangerous when we gave them the chance. I really don't think Bolton would be where they are if they hadn't had the injury problems they have had this term. Two of their best players, Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong, being two names on the long term injury list. Also, with all of the distractions that come from the Fabrice Muamba situation, and the impecable way they have dealt with it all, I for one hope they avoid the drop come what May.

The lack of actual reporting on the match so far should tell you all you need to know about the quality of the first half, unsurprisingly it finished 0-0.

The beginning of the second half saw a Newcastle substitution, with Perch making way for young Irish winger Shane Ferguson, and although the change pushed Jonas Gutierrez into the centre of midfield, which I personally don't like, it was great to see Alan Pardew changing things and going more offensive.

However, it was Bolton that came out searching for that opening goal, pressing Newcastle early on in the second half much like they had in the first. Something had to give, and it nearly did when Tim Krul had to pull off a brilliant save as Chris Eagles walzted through the Newcastle defence.

Mark Davies then went close, again forcing Krul into action. Eventually though, Bolton began to tire and on 73 minutes, something special happened as Ben Arfa picked the ball up on the half way line from Cabaye, after performing a great turn the pitch opened up for him, he kept going, finding room to skip through the heart of the Bolton defence, with the finish to match too. It was something that a certain Argentine maestro from the Camp Nou would have been proud of.

Shortly after came a substitution, as a confidence lacking, frustrated Demba Ba was replaced by Shola Ameobi, who soon made it two as his fine cross from the right was met by who else but Papiss Cisse, the striker prodding home despite a suspicion of offside and end the game as a contest. Ten goals in nine games, enough said.

That win, Chelsea's draw and Spurs' loss leaves Newcastle JOINT 4TH! Champions League football next term? surely, surely not... really?

Harry De Cosemo
19 years old, Newcastle season ticket holder. European football enthusiast and aspiring football writer. Currently doing a Journalism degree at Teesside University. You can follow me on Twitter: @harrydecosemo

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