Football: Shearer delivers a deadly double

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The Independent Online
Newcastle United 2

Shearer 11, 89 pen

Nottingham Forest 0

Attendance: 36,760

THE LAST manager to guide Nottingham Forest to victory on Tyneside was at left-back for Newcastle United at St James' Park yesterday. It was a satisfactory day at the office for Stuart Pearce, though not one without its troubles. The club he served as player and manager for 12 years threatened to emulate the FA Cup victory they gained under his stewardship in January last year. They probed down Pearce's flank. They rattled the woodwork. They forced a man-of-the-match performance from Shay Given. Ultimately, however, Forest were cut down by Alan Shearer.

The pounds 15m man continued his profitable spell in front of goal, adding two goals to an account which now boasts seven goals from four games. It was by no means a tour de force by the Tynesiders, who have stepped up to third place on the Premiership bill. Despite the flaws in the performance, however, the result brought back memories of the good old days to the audience. It was Newcastle's fourth victory in four matches, their longest winning run for two years, when Kevin Keegan was still the showmaster of the black-and-white minstrels.

There was an ironic reminder of the not-so-good days too. Chants of "Dalglish" rang round the ground as the son of Ruud Gullit's predecessor made his entrance just before the hour mark. And Paul Dalglish made his presence felt. Released from bench duty to replace Temuri Ketsbaia, the 21-year- old, bearing a striking resemblance to his father in his appearance and in his carriage, had the Toon Army singing his name again when he set up Shearer's second with three minutes left.

His measured through-ball found the England captain on the right of the Forest area and drew the crude challenge from Alan Rogers that allowed Shearer to score his second from the penalty spot. Dalglish junior made a hash of the one chance that came his way, courtesy of Shearer, blasting high and wide from 20 yards. His new boss, however, was pleased with the 31 minutes of first-team experience he added to the injury-time baptism he made at Coventry last week. "Paul responded very well," Gullit said.

Dalglish senior was doubtless happy too. The man who made way for Gullit at St James' was understood to be absent yesterday, despite having rubbished reports that he had been accosted by Newcastle fans after watching his son score his sixth reserve team goal of the season at Rotherham on Tuesday.

The Toon Army were certainly shouting for blood as Newcastle waged an early war against the Forest defence - or, to be precise, against the Forest defence's none-too-secure offside trap. It brought the home side, and their enraged supporters, into conflict with the linesman patrolling the touchline in the opposition's half, leaving David Elleray to keep a fragile peace.

First Ketsbaia was flagged down. Then Shearer. Then Stephen Glass. It was all too much for Shearer when he was held up a second time. He stormed across to the flagging official, prompting Mr Elleray to proffer a little schoolmasterly admonition. If England's head boy was chastened, though, he did not show it. He responded with what amounted to a two-fingered salute, leaving Forest's back-line waiting for a flag that never came as he hared after Given's clearance, rounded Dave Beasant and dispatched a scoring 10th-minute shot.

Newcastle, though, being Newcastle, proceeded to make life difficult for themselves. Forest were given freedom of St James' and ought to have been ahead by half-time. Perhaps the the vial of holy water Given keeps in his net had something to do with it, but the home goal led a charmed life. In one flurry alone Given punched clear Steve Chettle's volley, Laurent Charvet blocked Nigel Quashie's header on the line and another reflex save thwarted Rogers.

Steve Stone also struck the bar with a cross-cum-shot from the right but Newcastle rode their luck deep into the second half with their lead intact. The final cruel twist for Forest was the point-blank last minute save with which Given denied Neil Shipperley a debut goal. Their supporters, however, did not go home empty handed. At the final whistle Pearce gave them the shirt off his back. It was ever thus.