Match Report: Adam Le Fondre leaves Alan Pardew floundering

Newcastle United 1 Reading 2: Newcastle supporters turn on their team's manager after questionable substitutions lead to a Reading fightback which further extends a disastrous run

St James' Park

By the time the second goal went in, the Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, had left – his seat, definitely, the ground, perhaps.

Derek Llambias, the Newcastle managing director, was similarly absent when Adam Le Fondre cast a city into despair.

Llambias had returned by the time Andre Marriner signified that Alan Pardew’s side had lost their 10th Premier League game from the last 14 they have played. There were jeers to greet the confirmation of defeat. There had been jeers for the substitutions of Sylvain Marveaux (tactical) and Yohan Cabaye (fitness related). There had been a dismissive wave of his right arm from Pardew to the criticism of that decision. There had been chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing”. No club teeters from success (fifth top in May) to disaster quite so quickly (currently two points off second bottom).

There had been a Herculean effort to clear St James’ Park and its surrounding areas of snow yesterday morning. It started at 7am, when a team of 200 reacted to Pardew’s desire for the game to be on. That collective desire seemed to end around seven hours later, at half-time, when Newcastle deservedly were a goal to the good.

Cabaye had returned to the starting XI for the first time since early November. It made a significant difference. His clever, crossfield pass led to the opening goal, when Marveaux was fouled on the edge of the Reading penalty area. Cabaye stroked the ball over the wall into the goal. It looked so simple, but nothing at Newcastle truly is. The second half implosion was the season lived out in 45 minutes.

There were decisions to be questioned. The use of Shola Ameobi on the right side of midfield. The withdrawal of Marveaux. The inability to defend simple situations, as in the ones that led to Reading’s goals.

Le Fondre cost Reading £300,000. Brian McDermott said afterwards that you could not buy Le Fondre’s right sock for that price now after his stunning double, from the substitutes’ bench. He also gave an impassioned defence of Pardew, who took him to Reading and gave him a start in coaching. Pardew needs that support right now. There has previously been support from the boardroom as well, but Ashley, on a rare appearance at St James’ Park this season, will have noticed two things: the lack of depth in the squad he has spent five-and-a-half years building, and the growing hostility to his current manager.

Pardew was asked if he was concerned about his position. “No,” he said. “I think I’m strong enough and [I’ve] been in situations before that I can deal with where we’re at. We were well set today. There was a good mood in the camp. It can change quickly when you’re down the bottom. The mood was quite good until the second half. You sensed we were losing a grip of the game. Defensively we need to improve, for sure. We wouldn’t have had an ugly day like we ended up having.

“Once they scored, we had a negative tilt on the game in terms of the stadium and the game. Taking Marveaux off was probably a mistake. It perhaps looked negative, and in a way it was. There was a bad reaction to that and that spread to the team. We looked very nervous after that and it was very difficult to turn that situation around. I didn’t envisage losing Yohan Cabaye. He had trained for 12 days. I thought he could get through the game.”

Newcastle didn’t strengthen in the summer. They will rue that decision until the end of a dreadful season. They are close to signing the French centre-half Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. He could yet be a replacement for Fabricio Coloccini, who has asked to leave and will have talks with the club tomorrow.

It was his defensive partner Mike Williamson who lost Le Fondre for the equalising goal, in the 71st minute, after Jimmy Kebe had crossed low from the Reading right. It was the forward’s first touch. There was a suspicion the ball brushed his hand on the way into the Newcastle goal. Six minutes later, it was more conclusive, Le Fondre turning sharply to crash a right-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net.

“I am proud of everyone,” said McDermott. “You don’t concentrate on what is going on in the crowd. We were concentrating on what we had to do. The most important thing was to keep believing.

“Alan Pardew was manager of the year last year. He brought me to Reading so I’ve got a lot to be grateful and thankful for. He is  a fantastic manager. They’ve had their injuries and maybe they didn’t spend in the summer time the way they could have done.” Even the manager of Reading can see that.

Newcastle (4-1-4-1): Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Anita (Obertan, 80); Ameobi, Cabaye (Bigirimana, 75), Marveaux (Perch, 65), Gutierrez; Cissé.

Reading (4-5-1): Federici; Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte; Kebe, Guthrie (Le Fondre, 70), McAnuff, Leigertwood, McCleary (Akpan, 64); Pogrebnyak.

Referee: Andre Marriner

Man of the match: Le Fondre (Reading)

Match rating: 5/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
Life and Style
food + drink
News
video
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
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.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home