Football: Cole and Schmeichel combine to keep United in the clear

Newcastle United 0 Manchester United 1

A strange thing happened on Tyneside yesterday. Andy Cole scored a goal at St James' Park.

Not for three years - since 26 November 1994, in fact - had that one- time phenomenon been beheld at the Manchester United striker's former place of employment. On that occasion, it earned a stuttering Newcastle side a point against Ipswich Town.

Yesterday the header he planted firmly into the right corner of the Gallowgate End goal gained vengeance for the 5-0 humiliation endured by his present employers at the Premiership's northernmost outpost 14 months ago.

It was not cold-served revenge, however. Quite the opposite, in fact. The ill-feeling between the two Uniteds, the players and the followers, stirred a white-hot atmosphere. Cole himself was so fired up in the first half he risked eyeballing old Psycho, Stuart Pearce. And when he became embroiled in an ugly spat with Darren Peacock, in the final minute, the alert Steve Watson had to save him from the beckoning clutches of a tanked- up Tyneside "Teletubbie" who waddled on to the pitch.

When the dust settled, and the final whistle blew, Cole departed to a chorus of booing and the champions left with three more Premiership points. They have 43 now, nine more than they had gathered by the half-way mark of their 1996-97 campaign.

They were not at their breathtaking best yesterday. Only in the last half an hour did they show their true champion class. But, thanks to Cole's goal, and two blinding saves by Peter Schmeichel, they did enough to pull four points clear of the pretenders behind them on this season's title trail.

It was an occasion fit for two Prime Ministers, if not a king, the Taoiseach Bertie Aherne taking a seat in the Milburn Stand alongside the Toon Army's Downing Street member. Whether Mr Blair rose from his seat as the chorus of "Stand up if you hate Man U" rang round the ground was hard to say but he had reason to be pleased with what he saw in the opening 45 minutes - presuming, that is, he was watching in black and white rather than diplomatic technicolour.

Manchester United's first-half attacking endeavour amounted to no more than three half-chances and only Cole's close range effort, three minutes before the break, was a serious threat to Shaka Hislop.

Such restricted action in the home goalmouth might have been expected, with six defenders in Newcastle's starting line-up, but it was by no means a damage-limitation exercise by Kenny Dalglish's side. Far from it.

From the moment John Barnes released Alessandro Pistone down the left and the Italian's cross narrowly missed the head of the vertically challenged John Beresford, Newcastle went for the jugular at every opportunity. It was not the attacking tour de force of 14 months ago but it unsettled Schmeichel and the red-shirted minders directly in front of him.

The Dane made a stunning reflex save after 24 minutes, when Stuart Pearce crossed from deep on the left and Barnes planted a seemingly unstoppable goal-bound header. Schmeichel had good reason for self-satisfaction, but not for long.

A minute later, Keith Gillespie whipped the ball into the six-yard box and Schmeichel, under pressure from the lurking Faustino Asprilla, failed to hold it. He regained sufficient composure, however, to deflect wide Beresford's follow-up shot.

Inevitably, though, Newcastle could not maintain their high tempo. They looked tired, indeed, in the 69th minute, when David Beckham crossed from deep on the right and Cole rose to head past Hislop - for the record book, his 48th goal in 47 games at St James' Park.

His name should have been joined on the score-sheet by those of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes as Alex Ferguson's side moved into top gear. Ultimately, though, they had to thank Schmeichel for their victory. It took a reflex save of the highest order to keep out Pearce's diving header with 10 minutes to go.

Cole's marker remained face down in the mud, contemplating what might have been. The Newcastle board of 10 years ago ought to have done the same. They chose not to come up with the cash when Willie McFaul, the manager at the time, wanted to sign the rising star he beheld in the Danish under-21 team. And Peter Schmeichel shone as brightly as Andy Cole burned at St James' Park yesterday.

Goal: Cole (66) 0-1.

Newcastle United (5-3-2): Hislop; Watson, Peacock, Pearce, Albert (Barton, 32), Pistone; Gillespie, Batty, Beresford (Ketsbaia, 75); Barnes, Asprilla. Substitutes not used: Rush, Tomasson, Given (gk).

Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; G Neville, Johnsen, Pallister, P Neville; Beckham, Butt, Scholes (Solskjaer, 72), Giggs; Sheringham (McClair, 84), Cole. Substitutes not used: Berg, Curtis, Pilkington (gk).

Bookings: Newcastle United: Gillespie, Pistone, Batty, Peacock. Manchester United: Butt, P Neville, Cole.

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).

Man of the match: Schmeichel.

Attendance: 36,767.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker