Football: Beardsley and Cole fire Newcastle: Oldham's hopes ruined

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The Independent Online
Oldham Athletic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

IT IS not enough to keep Andy Cole quiet for most of the match and Oldham have the fact that they are still without a Premiership win at Boundary Park this season to remind them of that home truth.

Two typical strikes by Cole to maintain his average of more than a goal a match since going north, plus an equally good one from Peter Beardsley, overturned Oldham's half-time lead to keep that doleful record intact.

In reality, that three-goal flourish was nothing that Newcastle had not looked capable of from the start.

With an away following that took St James' Park's atmosphere with them, the convincing illusion was that it was Newcastle who were on the charge at home, while Oldham battled gamely to salvage something from alien territory.

After surviving a frantic Newcastle opening phase, Oldham even looked like succeeding in that salvage operation. Richard Jobson, back after injury in the unfamiliar position of right-back, put them ahead in the 34th minute, tapping home Mark Brennan's curling free-kick after it had run away from Mike Hooper.

Jobson was playing wide in defence because of the admirable form in his absence of Craig Fleming, whose campaign medals included a leech-like marking job on Ian Wright in Oldham's last home Premiership match. Last night, he was on his way to being equally diligent and effective on the case of Wright's obvious heir apparent. But Newcastle's hero caught fire without warning in the second half.

Fleming was wrong-footed when Robert Lee flicked on Kevin Scott's harmless long ball and the previously well-contained Cole was gone, running wider than seemed necessary but finishing magnificently with an exquisite left foot.

Beardsley's strike was just as unanswerable. He strode on to Scott Sellars' through-ball and drove a fierce rising shot past Lance Key.

Newcastle were firmly in their home-away-from-home mode now and when Cole turned past Steve Redmond and slid a shot towards the bottom-right-hand corner the result was as inevitable as the chants of 'Cole for England'.

The by now ecstatic travelling Geordies were not specific, but it is doubtful whether they meant England Under-21s.

Oldham Athletic (4-3-3): Key; Jobson, Fleming, Redmond, Makin; Bernard, Milligan, Brennan; Palmer, Sharp, Olney (Adams, 64). Substitutes not used: Pointon, Hallworth (gk).

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Hooper; Watson, Venison, Scott, Elliott; Clark, Lee, Bracewell, Sellars; Cole, Beardsley. Substitutes not used: Nielson, Mathie, Srnicek (gk).

Referee: R Gifford (Llanbradach, Mid-Glam).

Garry Flitcroft, the Manchester City midfielder, went into hospital yesterday for a cartilage operation and will be out for a month.

Terry Gibson is training with his old club Tottenham while he looks for a new club. The 30-year-old striker injured knee ligaments while on trial with Charlton during the summer following his release by Wimbledon.