Football: Beresford cast as comic-book hero

Newcastle United 3 Barnes pen 4, Tomasson 45, Beresford 90 Leices ter City 3 Marshall 12, 32, Elliott 54 Attendance: 36,754
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The Independent Online
Kenny Dalglish insists he is going nowhere. "Complete fabrication," was his response to reports linking him with Rangers. The trouble is his Newcastle team are going nowhere too. Their fourth failure to win in five Premiership matches has left them stuck in mid-table. For the first time since the opening day, they scored more than one goal in a league fixture. They needed a third in injury time, though, to save face and a point.

Newcastle's defending bordered on the comic book as Ian Marshall, twice, and Matt Elliott were granted the free headers which promised to earn Leicester victory. It might have been appropriate considering the engagement happened to be sponsored by Viz but, with PSV Eindhoven at St James' Park in the Champions' League on Wednesday, playing set-piece statues to such costly effect was no laughing matter. Dalglish was not splitting his sides afterwards but his defence was tighter than his team's. "I was very happy with the way we played," he said, "except for losing three goals at set- pieces. Our outfield play was very impressive. I thought justice was done when John Beresford scored."

Newcastle have been so static in recent weeks they have been overtaken by Rangers as the in-form team in Northumberland - Berwick Rangers that is. Scoring goals has been the problem: just nine in nine Premiership games until yesterday. With pounds 22.5m worth of firepower in cold storage, Faustino Asprilla and Alan Shearer still convalescing, the restless Novocastrian natives have been crying out for Dalglish to buy but he kept faith yesterday with the two men he signed in the summer as attacking midfielders, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Temur Ketsbaia.

Neither had scored in the Premiership but both had an influence on the scoresheet. Ketsbaia earned the fourth-minute penalty which John Barnes converted, courtesy of Marshall's botched challenge, while Tomasson was officially credited with helping Des Hamilton's goalward header into the net in first-half injury-time. By then, however, the Foxes had Newcastle on the run.

The home guard were not so much at sixes and sevens as fives, sixes and 27s. Between them, the central defensive trio of Darren Peacock, Steve Howey (before his premature departure) and Philippe Albert twice allowed the unmarked and unchallenged Marshall to head past Shay Given - in the 11th minute from Steve Guppy's curling free-kick, and after 32 minutes from Muzzy Izzet's hooked cross. Nine minutes into the second half the script was the same, Elliott heading in Guppy's inswinging right-wing corner from close range.

It took Newcastle until injury time to conjure a point-saver, Ketsbaia clipping an angled ball to the corner of the six-yard box for Beresford to plunder his sixth goal of the season with a diving header.

It was not the final word, however. Emile Heskey saw red twice, first when he raised his fists towards Albert and then when he was sent to his slightly premature bath. It seemed like handbags stuff. The heavyweight striker is, after all, known as "Bruno".

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