Carroll overshadowed by Roberts' late winner

Newcastle United 1 Blackburn Rovers 2
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The Independent Online

Andy Carroll would not be the first Newcastle No 9 to make the international grade without conforming to the "goody two shoes" mould that Joey Barton referred to the other day. Hughie Gallacher, whose goalscoring flair shot the Magpies to their last top-flight title, back in the mists of 1926-27, and who plundered 24 goals in 20 appearances for Scotland, was a 5ft 5in firebrand who was once charged with being drunk and disorderly while playing in a tour match in Budapest, who was bound over to keep the peace after being involved in a brawl on the High Level Bridge, and who was shot at on the streets of Belfast after ignoring a half-time death threat to ease up on the scoring front in an inter-League match.

It remains to be seen whether Carroll – with all of his off-field baggage – will get the call from Fabio Capello for England's friendly against France next week but the 6ft 4in Tyneside totem did his case for selection no harm last night with his second goal in four days. Like the winner against Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday, it was another header from a floated Barton free-kick from deep. This time, however, Carroll's 47th-minute effort was only good enough to temporarily level the scores.

Having succeeded in straitjacketing Carroll and his colleagues in the opening 45 minutes with a claustrophobic 5-4-1 formation, the one-time Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce had a victory to celebrate on his return to St James' Park when substitute Jason Roberts struck the winner for Blackburn eight minutes from the end of a robust contest in which Carroll was subjected to some rough-house elbowing whenever he challenged for the ball in the air – and in which Barton appeared to give Morten Gamst Pederson a dig in the solar plexus at one point early in the second-half. "I'm not going to talk about that," Allardyce said, when asked about the latter incident. "I don't want to detract from our victory."

It was Pedersen who applied the first scoring blow, driving a right footed shot past Tim Krul from the right edge of the Newcastle six-yard box after Cheik Tioté had been disposed by Brett Emerton while attempting to dribble out of trouble. It left Big Sam with a big smile of satisfaction and his former club playing catch-up with just three minutes on the clock.

It proved to be a frustrating task for Newcastle as they struggled to make inroads through the blue-and-white shirted ranks of the opposition. A goal at the other end looked more likely before half-time, with the roving Pedersen having one drive deflected wide and another two saved by Krul.

Two minutes into the second half Carroll stole behind Samba to head in Barton's free-kick and Newcastle were suddenly on level terms. From then, the contest hung in the balance until the 82nd minute, when Roberts beat Mike Williamson to a header and strode forward to slot home the winner.

Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Krul; Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Williamson, Simpson, Nolan, Barton, Gutierrez, Tiote (Routledge, 88), Carroll, Ameobi (Ranger, 46). Substitutes not used Soderberg (gk), Campbell, Taylor, Smith, Lovenkrands.

Blackburn Rovers (5-4-1): Robinson; Samba, Givet, Nelson, Salgado, Jones, Chimbonda, Emerton, Pedersen, Kalinic (Roberts, 52), Hoilett (Dunn, 84). Substitutes not used Bunn (gk), Hanley, Goulon, M Diouf, E H Diouf.

Referee M Jones (Chester).

Attendance 41,053.

Man of the match Jones.

Match rating 5/10.

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