Football: FA Cup - Lethal Shearer uses his head as Tyneside starts getting in the mood for a Fifties revival
Newcastle United 1 Tranmere Rovers 0
Monday 16 February 1998
If, in May, Robert Lee is to become the first Newcastle captain since Jimmy Scoular (circa 1955) to hoist a major domestic trophy, it seems the particularly striking talent of Shearer rather than the fickle hand of fate will be the determining factor. Or simply Shearer's head, perhaps.
Thrice in the fourth round it came to Newcastle's rescue against Stevenage. And on Saturday afternoon, another uncomfortably close shave with cup embarrassment for the off-key black and white minstrels, it nodded Newcastle within two matches of Wembley.
Shearer's shooting boots have failed him since his return to action a month ago. This was the eighth game - seven for club, one for country - in which he has been unable to deliver a scoring shot.
It is just as well for Newcastle that the man with the diamond-branded shoes happens to possess a gem of a cranium. The ultimate difference between the Premiership hosts and their First Division guests was the 22nd minute header Shearer directed down on to the Gallowgate End turf and up into the top left corner of the Tranmere net.
Saturday's header came courtesy of a cross from the left by Alessandro Pistone, the Italian's second such assist since the return of Shearer.
It is in games like this that you appreciate why Kevin Keegan decided to put the bank on the number nine. Newcastle will have had a return for their investment if Shearer's goals manage to bring some silverware to Tyneside.
Whether they alone will be enough to get Kenny Dalglish's team to Wembley this season, never mind back up the A1 with the old tin pot, remains open to considerable doubt. Tranmere held sway for much of Saturday's tie and enjoyed a monopoly of chances in the second half.
With Dave Challinor performing Ian Hutchinson impressions from throw- ins (the young central defender has a best of 46m in the Guinness Book of Records), the Merseyside Rovers would not have been out of place beneath the Twin Towers on cup final afternoon.
But their goalscoring opportunities all went begging at St James' Park, and with them the chance of a first FA Cup quarter-final appearance for the Welsh Cup winners of 1935.
Goal: Shearer (22) 1-0.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Barton, Howey, Pearce, Pistone; Gillespie, Batty, Lee, Speed (Barnes, 87); Tomasson (Ketsbaia, 76), Shearer. Substitutes not used: Rush, Peacock, Hislop (gk).
Tranmere Rovers (5-3-2): Simonsen; Morgan, Challinor, McGreal, Hill, Thompson; Irons (Mellon, 45), O'Brien (Jones, 75), Morrissey; Branch (Parkinson, 10), Kelly. Substitutes not used: Mahon, Powell (gk).
Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).
Bookings: Newcastle: Pistone. Tranmere: McGreal, Mellon, Hill.
Man of the match: Challinor.
Latest in Sport
Google trolls Tottenham with Oxford dictionary definition of 'lackadaisical'
Gabriel Paulista: Talented Brazilian could grow into world-class defender at Arsenal
Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Floyd Mayweather ends the carnival this week and picks his next fight - but will it be Amir Khan, Manny Pacquiao or Miguel Cotto
Steven Defour: Anderlecht midfielder sent off after kicking ball into Standard Liege fans who unveiled huge banner showing him decapitated
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and well established busi...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Product Owner/Business Analyst is required t...
£28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...
£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...