Football: Fowler equal to Shearer's strike
Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 1
Tuesday 24 December 1996
Robbie Fowler's 104th goal for Liverpool, his 19th of the season, earned the leaders a point on a ground where they have not won for nine years, since Peter Beardsley and Mark Lawrenson were on their side. The result was more satisfactory to the latter-day Anfield men, even though they may have been disappointed not to have exploited increasing signs of nerves in the home ranks in the final 10 minutes of a contest that was always compelling, even if it never quite soared to the inspirational heights of the seven-goal thriller at Liverpool in April.
The consolation for Newcastle, who were 10 points clear of the field going into Christmas last year, was not falling the same distance behind this term's pacesetters. Seven points, even with a game in hand, will be difficult enough for Kevin Keegan's side to make up. As the manager himself duly acknowledged: "It keeps us in touch. We're not playing well but we can still win the League. I certainly believe that."
The Newcastle manager was in the unfamiliar position of watching his team play a home match as underdogs and he was confronted with immediate cause for concern as Stan Collymore burst forward from the kick-off and only an offside flag denied Fowler a goal in 10 seconds. The perceptive prompting of John Barnes and Michael Thomas provided Keegan with additional troublesome food for thought, but Newcastle had succeeded in drastically staunching the red tide before they struck the first blow in the 28th minute.
Les Ferdinand headed David Ginola's left-wing free-kick against the bar and Shearer pounced, unconventionally directing the loose ball past David James with his knee. It was typical of Newcastle that the assurance then drained from their play.
Steve McManaman, having been adeptly policed by Robert Lee, broke free to rifle a shot into the side-netting and Fowler twice shot wide when well-placed before finally hitting the target in first-half injury time. McManaman skipped down the left and squared the ball for Fowler to swivel and shoot into the Gallowgate End net.
Newcastle might have regained the lead three minutes into the second half. Certainly, Ferdinand could hardly have wished for a more inviting opportunity than that with which his striking partner provided him.
Shearer drew applause for the nonchalant manner in which he trapped a high ball on the half-way line and he followed up by delivering a first- time through-ball that split the Liverpool defence and left Ferdinand with a clear shot on goal. James saved that and then tipped efforts from Shearer and Lee wide as Newcastle built up a head of steam. It was Thomas, though, who emerged as Liverpool's saviour.
The man whose sharp-shooting as a Gunner was responsible for denying the Merseysiders what would have been their most recent title, in that dramatic Anfield decider in 1991, was stationed with admirable foresight on the Liverpool goal-line with 18 minutes to go.
His header stopped Steve Watson's chipped shot and Liverpool, thereafter, looked the more likely winners. Newcastle creaked nervously at the back every time the visitors worked the ball through to the threatening feet of Collymore and Fowler.
Roy Evans was content enough, though, to depart with a three-point lead at the top of the Premiership. "We're in the best position," he said. "To come here and get something is a good result for us."
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Srnicek; Watson, Peacock, Albert, Elliott; Gillespie (Barton, 90), Lee, Beardsley, Ginola (Clark, 36); Shearer, Ferdinand (Kitson, 85). Substitutes not used: Brayson, Hislop (gk).
Liverpool (3-4-1-2): James; Ruddock, Babb, Wright; McAteer, Thomas, Barnes, Bjornebye; McManaman; Collymore, Fowler. Substitutes not used: Matteo, Berger, Kennedy, L Jones, Warner (gk).
Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).
Last night's results, page 19
Latest in Sport
Brighton vs Arsenal: FA Cup match preview
Cristiano Ronaldo vine: Real Madrid forward sent-off for kicking and striking opponent during 2-1 win over Cordoba
What time is the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble on? TV details and full card
Sam Burgess: Bath and England's next big thing
Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 1 Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
- 2 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 3 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'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
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...