Football: Newcastle tune up for European adventure

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The Independent Online
Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . .2

Arsenal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

ONE song, mischievously aired during the kick-in, said it all: 'Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat?' Messrs Bowie and Jagger, of course, but it could have been Keegan and McDermott.

Keegan is a master at raising Geordie expectations, and meeting them. Gallowgate was heading for the gallows when this can-do, semi- messianic figure strode into St James' 27 months ago; now Newcastle, pending Uefa's blessing, are heading for Europe. Next stop Milan, Keegan enthuses, then Mars.

As Saturday staggered into Sunday in the pubs and clubs that form the city's boisterous Bigg Market, the talk focused on foreign fields. Those who receive renumeration for donning the black and white mixed with those who would willingly pay to wear it to their own nuptials, and a huge 'Uefa Cup Final 1995' banner left the assorted players in no doubt as to Newcastle's next mission.

But doubts persist over the Magpies' defence, which will need to tighten considerably if Keegan is to mount a European campaign as successfully as parsimonious Arsenal managed. United's back-line is more vulnerable than the Gunners', particularly away from St James' where they have conceded 27 League goals to Arsenal's 13. The contrast is most notable at centre-half: Darren Peacock may mature into a commanding stopper, but, as yet, the 26-year-old is not in Tony Adams' class.

Despite their midweek exertions, an understrength Arsenal resisted the Tyne tide until the second period when another exuberant Newcastle venture, between Ruel Fox and Peter Beardsley, allowed Andy Cole to score against his former employers from an unlikely angle.

The tune army ran through its repertoire, including a song of praise for the visitors' curly-locked Ray Parlour - 'There's only one Shirley Temple'. The merriment spread further after Beardsley added a penalty, and reached hoarse-throat intensity when Keegan led the Premiership's third-placed team on a lap of honour.

Europe awaits. The Channel Tunnel had better be ready on time.

Goals: Cole (46) 1-0; Beardsley pen (66) 2-0.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Srnicek; Venison, Beresford, Peacock, Neilson, Beresford; Fox, Watson (Robinson, 58), Lee, Sellars; Beardsley, Cole. Substitutes not used: Jeffrey, Hooper (gk).

Arsenal (4-4-2): Miller; Dixon (Linighan, 81), Adams, Bould, Winterburn; McGoldrick, Davis (Parlour, 55), Selley, Morrow; Wright, Smith. Substitute not used: Will (gk).

Referee: R Dilkes (Mossley).