Football: Justice done by Scott

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday 1 Newcastle United 1

ULTIMATELY THERE were no pushovers at Hillsborough last night, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle - despite their Fair Play League and FA Cup final considerations - producing a contest of more clout than might have been expected.

For a fleeting moment, though, the referee Paul Alcock was close to a deja vu experience on the ground where Paolo Di Canio sent him famously crashing to earth last September. Benito Carbone, unlike his compatriot and erstwhile colleague, managed to stop short of physical action, though the Italian forward was given a yellow card for the vehemence of the verbal protest that followed the penalty awarded to Newcastle by Mr Alcock just before half-time.

Despite the notable absence of a linesman's flag, Mr Alcock pointed to the spot when Pavel Srnicek raced from his goal-line to tackle Robert Lee on the left edge of the Wednesday penalty area. Alan Shearer duly scored his 19th goal of the season and for the second time in seven months, Mr Alcock had several thousand South Yorkshire folk baying for his blood.

It was the Halstead official's first assignment at Hillsborough since he was sent tumbling by Di Canio on 26 September. On that occasion, the ire he provoked helped stir Wednesday to victory against Arsenal, Lee Briscoe scoring a late winner against the Premiership champions. Last night it prompted a similar backlash.

Though Carbone and Andy Booth had squandered clear chances for Danny Wilson's struggling side, Newcastle had enjoyed the better of the first half, prompted by Dietmar Hamann's perceptive first-time passing. After the break though, it was a different story.

Within six minutes, Wednesday were level. They had Wilson's judgement to thank for that, Richard Scott having been introduced after the break. Eluding Aaron Hughes on the edge of the Newcastle area, the young midfielder beat Steve Harper with a low, curling shot. It was his first goal since signing from St Johnstone and enough to ensure that justice, roughly, prevailed.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Srnicek; Atherton, Thome, Walker, Hinchcliffe; Alexandersson, Sonner, Jonk (Scott, h-t), Rudi; Carbone, Booth. Substitutes not used: Cresswell, Cobian, Stefanovic, Pressman (gk).

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Griffin, Dabizas, Hughes, Barton; Lee (Brady, 87), Speed, Hamann, Maric; Ketsbaia, Shearer (Solano, 73). Substitutes not used: Beharall, Andersson, Harper (gk).

Referee: P Alcock (Halstead).