Football: Newcastle drive stalled by Sussex

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The Independent Online
Southend United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

UNUSUAL are those occasions when Newcastle fail to win and this was the first time they have drawn on an away ground this season, nine victories showing how well Kevin Keegan's rampaging leaders have travelled this season.

Their single point last night extends their advantage at the top of the First Division to 15 and very grateful they were for it too, which says everything about Southend's willingness and ability to make a true fight of it.

'In the first half we played some exceptional stuff; in the second demonstrated we could battle, so there was everything a manager could ask for,' a contented Keegan said. 'It's never going to be easy for us, but when I joined the club last Febuary we had 29 points, now we have 60, so we have come a long way.'

His stars in stripes began as if they would obtain victory No 20 at a canter. They were spraying the ball all over the place, always to feet and the movement was well- timed and pleasing on the eye.

David Kelly skied a third- minute chance, Barry Venison was off target with a shot from outside the penalty area and just before half-time Lee Clark bundled the ball the wrong side of the post after Paul Sansome had spilled Liam O'Brien's free-kick.

Only when Gavin Peacock swooped in the 28th minute for his 18th goal of the season did it cross your mind to wonder why Keegan is so intent on recruiting a new striker. Andrew Cole is the latest target, but Newcastle's pounds 1.3m cash- plus-player offer was turned down by Bristol City yesterday.

Last night they held the lead for just 11 minutes. Keith Jones's through pass attacked the centre of defence and when Stan Collymore showed a deft turn Kevin Scott brought him down and Andy Sussex rammed home the penalty. Southend's spirit and ability should soon take them out of the bottom three.

Southend United: Sansome; Edwards, Powell, Cornwell, Scully, Prior, Locke, Sussex, Martin, Collymore, Jones. Substitutes not used: Tilson, Hyslop.

Newcastle United: Srnicek; Venison, Beresford, O'Brien, Scott, Howey, Lee, Peacock, Kelly, Clark, Brock. Substitutes not used: Kilcline, Kristensen.

Referee: R Wiseman (Bournemouth).