Football: All pace, craft and Beardsley

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The Independent Online
Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Swindon Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

KEVIN KEEGAN, in assessing his side's pulsating performance, used three words. They were pace, craft and brains. It is on those qualities that Newcastle are attempting to construct their empire.

There was evidence of them all around on Saturday - from the tyro, Robbie Elliott, in the heart of defence, through Steve Watson, Robert Lee and Ruel Fox in midfield, to the daddy and master of them all, Peter Beardsley, at the front.

Throughout this season there has been a brittle element to their play, caused partly by their insistence on moving forward in a regular series of snappy, smart passing movements, and partly by genuine weaknesses under pressure. But poor old Swindon, attempting to match their hosts pass for ground pass, too often lacked the Keegan trio of attributes to realise their aspirations.

'I don't think anybody would have stopped us in that form,' Keegan said. 'There were some great individual displays out there.' He mentioned most of his bright young men, including Andy Cole, goalless for once, which was perhaps the game's biggest surprise of all.

In placing Fox on his list, he arrived at his central point. His record signing possessed admirable pace, he said, and that would be needed in the places Newcastle intended to go. His defence also had it, he pointed out, and there was craft in every member of his midfield. The football brain is, of course, personified by Beardsley.

He is always a pleasure to watch and while it was not one of his more incisive days, he still caressed the ball with combined beauty and menace and scored two goals, the second his 200th in the League. There was a brace each, too, for the less prolific Lee and Watson. It was the first time either had scored in the Premiership and, in the latter's case, was sufficient to leave him 197 behind Beardsley.

Goals: Beardsley pen (13) 1-0; Lee (18) 2-0; Lee (68) 3-0; Beardsley (70) 4-0; Watson (76) 5-0; Moncur (77) 5-1; Watson (80) 6-1; Fox (85) 7-1.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Srnicek; Robinson, Venison, Elliot, Beresford; Fox, Lee, Watson, Sellars; Cole, Beardsley. Substitutes not used: Hooper (gk), Mathie, Neilson.

Swindon Town (4-3-3): Digby; Nijholt, Taylor, Fenwick, Horlock; Bodin (Gooden, 45), Ling, Moncur; McAvennie, Scott (Hamon, 77), Fjortoft. Substitute not used: Hammond (gk).

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).