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
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
- 3 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 4 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...
£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...
£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...
£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...