Yorke's hat-trick in vain for Villa

Football: Newcastle United 4 Aston Villa 3

The man in black and blue, rather than the boys in black and white, delivered the table-topping performance at St James' Park last night. While Newcastle claimed the three points that took them second in the Premiership, David Elleray brandished the red card which took him ahead of Paul Danson in the sendings-off stakes.

The Harrow schoolmaster dismissed Mark Draper for a second bookable offence in the 43rd minute, thereby maintaining his consistency of four red cards in four games. What pained Brian Little, the Aston Villa manager, more deeply was the fact that the consistency Dwight Yorke rediscovered in front of goal was not enough to earn his side a point.

A 12-game drought, stretching back to 8 April, gave way to a veritable flood as Villa's goal machine cranked back into working order. Yorke scored the opening goal, a fourth-minute header from Draper's left-wing corner, and the last, a neat finish to a Sasa Curcic through ball in the 70th minute. The Tobagan striker also scored the sixth, capitalising on a Darren Peacock slip on the hour, shot against a post in the first half and had a possible fourth goal disallowed for what was a borderline offside decision.

By the final whistle, however, all that Yorke and the valiant Villa had achieved was evidence that reports of the death of Newcastle's defensive frailties have been greatly exaggerated. Newcastle may have put four goals past Michael Oakes - whose father, Alan, was in the last team to lift the championship at St James' Park (the Manchester City side that won 4-3 on the final day of the 1967-68 season) - but they looked far from trophy-winning material at the back.

It was Newcastle's good fortune that their priceless central defender, youth team product Steve Howey, was - like the pounds 6m Les Ferdinand and the pounds 15m Alan Shearer - in goalscoring form.

Yorke's opener was swiftly equalised by Ferdinand, who shot past Oakes in the fifth minute after Shearer's pass reached him on the right of the six-yard box. Ferdinand, who was poised to join Villa before Kevin Keegan lured him to Tyneside, made it 2-1 after 22 minutes, taking his goals tally to eight in six matches as he headed in Keith Gillespie's right- wing cross.

A goal-line block by Yorke, of all people, denied Ferdinand his hat-trick in the 38th minute, but Shearer pounced to shoot his first home goal from open play for Newcastle - his fifth of the season. Then, three minutes before the break, Villa found themselves 3-1 and a man down. Draper, having been booked for a 37th-minute foul on Gillespie, was dispatched after a rash challenge on John Beresford. "It was unfortunate," Little said. "I didn't think the first tackle was a bookable offence."

The Villa manager, a Newcastle fan in their Fairs Cup- winning days, could not have asked for more from 11 men than the 10 remaining gave towards retrieving a seemingly lost cause. As Keegan put it: "Each of them played like two men."

After Peacock's stumble let in Yorke for his second, Howey restored Newcastle's two-goal cushion, heading in Gillespie's cross from the right in the 66th minute. Keegan's men needed both goals, a fortunate flag and a liberal measure of luck before they latched on to Liverpool's heels at the top of the table.

"It was the sort of game you feel should have you ringing up the doctor asking for your annual check-up, even though you had it three weeks ago," the Newcastle manager said. Keegan, on last night's evidence, is still suffering from back trouble.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Srnicek; Watson, Peacock, Howey, Beresford; Gillespie, Batty, Lee, Ginola (Asprilla, 65); Ferdinand, Shearer. Substitutes not used: Albert, Elliott, Kitson, Hislop (gk).

Aston Villa (3-5-2): Oakes; Ehiogu, Southgate, Staunton; Nelson, Taylor, Draper, Curcic, Wright; Milosevic, Yorke. Substitutes not used: Johnson, Joachim, Hendrie, Scimeca, Rachel (gk).

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).

Results, page 23

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific