Shearer brightens Dalglish's first day

FOOTBALL: Newcastle's new manager witnesses a victory while Arsenal gain revenge for Saturday's defeat by Sunderland Newcastle United 2 Charl ton Athletic 1 (aet; score at 90 min 1-1)
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The Independent Online
Through the dubious welcome of the descending fog on the Tyne, Kenny Dalglish beheld more than one familiar vision at St James' Park last night.

For 100 minutes, it was the football manager's painful sight of his team's struggle to grasp the task at hand: the kind that might drive many from the dug-out to the golf course.

Then, in a blinding flash, it was the glorious spectacle of an Alan Shearer goal; only this time seen in monochrome. The free-kick Shearer struck into the top left corner of the goal ensured a victorious baptism for his old boss as Kevin Keegan's replacement at St James' Park.

Even as the black and whites pencilled in a fourth-round tie at home to Nottingham Forest on Sunday week, however, Newcastle United's new manager was still recovering from his reaquaintance with 120 minutes of highly pressurised football.

It took the Toon Army 40 minutes to chant the name of their new commander- in-chief and by then Lee Clark's goal looked to be advancing their team's FA Cup cause. Then Robson struck, not Catalonia's Geordie resident but Mark, whose 55th minute free-kick took the third-round replay into extra- time. It was a brilliant effort but it was Dalglish's good fortune to have, in the pounds 3.3m signing he has inherited as football's pounds 15m man someone, who could do the same - only better.

The strike which brought Shearer his 17th goal of the season bore a striking resemblance, in fact, to the one Jamie Redknapp delivered on the afternoon of Dalglish's last management engagement.

Shearer scored too that day - 14 May 1995, which he ended, despite Blackburn's 2-1 defeat, parading the Premiership trophy round Anfield. More convincing evidence will be required to suggest that Newcastle's 27-year wait for a major trophy may soon be over but at least Dalglish followed in Kevin Keegan's managerial footsteps with a victory - as he did as a player.

Two decades ago, in the Liverpool No 7 shirt, he scored after six minutes of his English League debut. Terry McDermott provided the assist at Ayresome Park on that occasion and he did the same as Dalglish's assistant last night, assuming team selection duties with Arthur Cox.

The noise reverberated around St James' when Dalglish emerged from the tunnel before kick-off to be introduced with McDermott. But there were neither chants for him nor for Keegan before play got began, torn as the Toon Army undoubtedly were between allegiances past and present.

"It was an awkward situation," Dalglish said later. "I think the crowd wanted to pay tribute to Kevin. Maybe they were embarrassed."

The players, for their part were initially eager to make first impressions. Following one of David Ginola's crosses, in the 10 minute, the ubiquitous Clark clipped the top of Andy Petterson's bar with a 20-yard drive. Charlton's sizeable support made much of the noise and their team made a suitably valiant fist of it. Indeed, Alan Curbishley's side might have silenced all but the red pocket of St James' had Brendan O'Connell not snatched too hastily at the clear chance Shaun Newton's low ball from the left provided for him with 24 minutes gone.

Eight minutes later the timeless prompting of Peter Beardsley released Clark into the Charlton area and the transfer-listed midfielder chipped in his second goal in as many matches. Robson swung his left boot to level the tie 10 minutes into the second half. But Shearer's final say left his old boss smiling.

"It was nice to be back," Dalglish said. "It's better than working."

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Hislop; Watson (Barton, 53), Peacock, Albert (Elliott, 51), Beresford; Gillespie, Batty, Clark, Ginola (Ferdinand, 99); Beardsley, Shearer.

Charlton Athletic (5-3-2): Petterson; Brown, Rufus, O'Connell, Chapple, Barness; Newton (Robinson, 71), Jones (Lisbie, 113), Robson; Leaburn, Whyte. Substitute not used: Balmer.

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).

Toon Army converted, page 27

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