Newcastle on fire as Boro slide further

Newcastle United 2 Middlesbrough 0: One North-east rival is a model of how to run a club... the other is not. Yet the Geordies are making a mockery of their laughing-stock status, writes Jason Mellor

Who would have thought it? Mike Ashley being able to offer Steve Gibson advice on the merits of managerial continuity. It's not just the moral high ground the Newcastle chairman enjoys over his Middlesbrough counterpart; a cursory glance at the Championship table reveals the clubs' contrasting fortunes, given the stunning role reversal in the owners' respective patience levels.

It will remain perhaps the season's most damning statistic, one which Gibson will need little reminding of. The Teesside club was fourth, a point off the summit, when he chose to dispense with Gareth Southgate following the victory over Derby County, in what remains their most recent home win at the end of October.

This morning, they languish in 14th, almost as close to the relegation zone as the automatic promotion places and a daunting 20 points behind Newcastle. The leaders have stretched their advantage to double figures thanks to an unbeaten run boasting eight victories in their last nine games under the guidance of Chris Hughton.

Given the previous track record of both owners – Gibson preaching and practising stability, Ashley's only consistency his inconsistency – the remarkable about-turn and its subsequent effect on these North-East rivals' attempts to secure an immediate return to the Premier League has been quite breathtaking.

Doubts remain regarding Hughton's suitability to manage in the Premier League when – not if – Newcastle return in May. That is a problem Gibson would love to have to deal with right now. One victory and five points in the eight games since Gordon Strachan took charge is the kind of form to get Boro out of the Championship, but in the opposite direction to Newcastle.

"As a manager you get some horrible periods in your life," he conceded. "This is one of them. I need to deal with it and I know what the problems are and I will address those."

In front of a record second-tier crowd of nearly 50,000, the result was never in doubt once referee Kevin Friend missed Shola Ameobi's push on Emanuel Pogatetz, as the forward outjumped hapless goalkeeper Brad Jones, to tee-up the fifth goal of Marlon Harewood's loan spell from Aston Villa from close range.

There was further misfortune for the visitors before the break when Steven Taylor's handball went un-noticed as the defender inadvertently pushed Isaiah Osbourne's follow-up on to a post after Steve Harper had beaten out Gary O'Neil's free-kick.

Ameobi sealed victory just before the hour, easily rising above a leaden-footed David Wheater to head the second from Danny Guthrie's inviting cross, allowing Hughton to take off both goalscorers.

"I can understand where Middlesbrough are coming from on the two major refereeing decisions," Hughton admitted. "But I thought Pogatetz was half-tumbling as the ball came over, and as for Steven, there was no intent to handle."

Victory was tinged with sadness following news of the death at 88 of Jack Hixon, the renowned North-East-based scout who unearthed Alan Shearer. "It's a very sad day," the former Newcastle captain said. "Jack was a lovely man. We were very close and he'll be sadly missed."

Newcastle (4-4-2): Harper; Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, Enrique; Guthrie, Nolan, Smith (Butt, 49), Gutierrez; Ameobi (Pancrate, 84), Harewood (Ranger, 66). Substitutes not used: Lovenkrands (gk), R Taylor, Krul, Kadar.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Jones; McMahon, Wheater, Pogatetz, Hoyte; O'Neil, R Williams, Osbourne, Arca (Yeates, 66); Kitson (Bent, h-t), Lita (Franks, 84). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Riggott, Coyne, L Williams.

Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).

Booked: Newcastle Simpson; Middlesborough R Williams, Pogatetz.

Man of the match: Guthrie.

Attendance: 49,644.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little