Date: 20th August 2009 at 11:42am
Written by:

SHOLA Ameobi’s fourth goal in two games sealed the three points for Newcastle in a closely-fought clash against the Owls at St James’ Park on Wednesday night.

Ameobi was on target just fifteen minutes in to give the hosts the lead, but battling Wednesday failed to lie down and came close to taking a share of the spoils back to South Yorkshire had it not been for good goalkeeping by Steve Harper.

The Geordies had chances of their own to add to their lead, with Lee Grant continuing to impress between the sticks for the Owls, but they were few and far between.

Nevertheless, the biggest crowd of the Football League season so far saw Newcastle run out deserved winners but give Wednesday boss Brian Laws plenty of positives to take into the clash with Scunthorpe this weekend, where he’ll be looking for his men to pick up their first three points of the campaign.

Laws named an unchanged side for the trip up the A1, with Jermaine Johnson continuing in attack alongside Marcus Tudgay, with Sean McAllister operating on the right side of midfield.

And JJ continued to impress in his new striker role, causing the hosts a number of problems with his power and pace, and being by far and away the moist dangerous player for Wednesday.

In contrast, Tudgay continued to replicate the form of last season which saw Premier League new-boys Burnley make an offer for his services.

On Tudgay’s showings so far, some Owls fans may well have wished Wednesday had accepted the Clarets’ offer, with last season’s top scorer having plenty to prove to the Owls faithful in the coming weeks.

The hosts had the majority of the early play without really testing Grant.

But, although the Toon Army may still have many ‘Premier League players’ and big-name players from the continent on their books, it was route one football that gave Ameobi the decisive goal 15 minutes in.

A long ball was picked up by the powerful forward, and he unleashed a powerful low half-volley which went inside Grant’s near post and gave the Wednesday stopper no chance.

After Saturday’s 3-0 demolition of Reading, many Newcastle fans, and Wednesday fans, may have been thinking a similar scoreline was going to be on the cards.

But to Wednesday’s credit, they kept their heads up and looked the more likely to add the next goal as the first half progressed.

McAllister could well have given Wednesday the lead before Ameobi’s opener, blasting an effort well over the bar from just over five yards out.

Newcastle looked confident on the ball and edged the possession in the first 45 minutes, but without really bringing Grant into serious action.

The Owls’ number one was called into action to deny Ameobi a second with a glancing header, but the stopper tipped the effort high and wide.

At the other end, Wednesday seemed to lack the cutting edge in attack and failed to find the crucial final ball, as Johnson continued to cause problems for the Toon defence but the support for the Jamaican failed to come, or just came too late.

Possible mind games started the second half, with Wednesday back out on the pitch a good five minutes before the hosts emerged from their dressing rooms.

The next goal was to prove vital, with a second for the hosts surely enough to secure them the three points, while a leveller from the visitors could see the close game go either way.

Grant had to be alert to produce another fine finger-tips save to deny Ryan Taylor from a curling free-kick as Newcastle started the second half brightly, but allowed Wednesday to come more into proceedings.

Former Sunderland man Michael Gray, impressive in the opening few matches for Wednesday, was having a hard time from the home crowd thanks to his time at the Stadium of Light, but he was more than enjoying the occasion.

It seemed he was enjoying it a little too much perhaps, when he launched an optimistic long-range effort which sliced well wide and came nowhere near to threatening Harper.

He came closer though not long after when Wednesday were awarded a dangerous looking free-kick, and this time Harper had to be alert to deny the midfielder with a fine save.

Although creating some chances, Wednesday’s attempts were too far in between and Lawsmade a double change with 20 minutes remaining as the attacking Etienne Esajas and Tommy Miller, another former Sunderland man, entered the pitch in place of Gray and McAllister.

The changes did little to change the flow of the game though, although Francis Jeffers’ introduction not long after almost saw the former Everton man level the scores late on.

Wednesday played arguably their best move of the match when Jeffers was played in inside the box, only for Harper to come rushing from his goal to deny Jeffers with the best chance of the game for the visitors.

And the travelling Owls fans sense the last chance had been and gone, with Newcastle comfortably hanging on, despite four minutes added time, to claim another three points.

Newcastle 1-0 Wednesday