Football: Cole comes up against blockade

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The Independent Online
Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Chelsea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

RICHLY entertained for most of the season, Newcastle United fans did not take kindly to yesterday's meagre pickings at St James' Park, where a determined Chelsea frustrated the home side at every turn. For the first time in the Premiership, United were involved in a 0-0 draw, largely as a result of their two leading strikers, Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley, being firmly shackled by an impressive Chelsea defence.

Cole, in particular, scarcely got a kick against Chelsea's two Scandinavian central defenders, Erland Johnsen and Jakob Kjeldbjerg, and Frank Sinclair largely subdued Beardsley, which was no mean feat.

On a day when the pitch was firm and the strong wind gusted unpredictably, both goalmouths had their share of near-misses. Newcastle created more chances, but Chelsea had the better scoring opportunities. Their worst miss came in the closing stages, when John Spencer broke away with only the keeper to beat, but drove wildly past. Five minutes earlier Chelsea's keeper, Dimitri Kharin, had foiled Robert Lee, leaping to his left to fist Lee's powerful drive over the bar.

Chelsea's Craig Burley, in a combative midfield role, was injured and left the field a minute before the end. He will join his player- manager, Glenn Hoddle, Eddie Newton, Gavin Peacock and Mark Stein in the treatment room at Stamford Bridge this week in an attempt to be fit for Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Luton Town on Saturday. Hoddle reckons Peacock and Newton have a 50-50 chance of being fit, but he did not think Stein would make it. He was non-committal about his own plans.

Newcastle still hold on to third place, even after a game that their manager described as one of the poorest he has seen in his two years at St James' Park.

Newcastle United (4-4-4): Srnicek; Robinson, Venison, Peacock, Beresford (Neilson, 74); Holland (Mathie, 63), Lee, Bracewell, Sellars; Beardsley, Cole. Substitute not used: Hooper (gk).

Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharin; Clarke, Sinclair, Kjeldbjerg, Johnsen; Burley (Barnard, 89), Spackman, Wise, Donaghy; Spencer, Cascarino. Substitutes not used: Lee, Hitchcock (gk).

Referee: S J Lodge (Barnsley).

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