Maritimo 0 Newcastle United 0

Posted by Marc Duffy

Alan Pardew surprisingly opted to start the game with the same back four that began the Everton game on Monday night, but with very few options at his disposal and the early departure from the squad of Vurnon Anita he didn't have a great deal of choice. It was all change in the other seven positions:

Elliot, Perch, Santon, Taylor, Williamson, Bigirimana, Gosling, Obertan, Amalfitano, Vuckic, Shola Ameobi

The conditions weren't ideal. The pitch was absolutely terrible - I've seen far better in the Gateshead and District Sunday League. The stadium is currently only half built after a redevelopment plan ran out of money a year ago.

Maritimo started the game brightly and only 90 seconds in created their first chance of the game - Sami, easily their best player on the evening, whipped a ball in from the left but the chance wasn't taken.

Rob Elliot made an excellent reaction save ten minutes in after Williamson lost Sami who turned and volleyed at goal. I haven't been overly impressed with Elliot in his couple of games before today, but he played very well doing most of what he had to do with ease.

A ridiculous blunder from Williamson almost allowed Maritimo through on goal. He attempted to deal with a through ball by back-heel flicking it away with his right foot rather than clearing with his left and he missed the ball. Fortunately Taylor was there to clear up.

We really struggled yet again in the first twenty minutes. Seven of the lineup may have changed from Monday night but this side had one thing in common with the team fielded at Everton - they could not retain possession of the football. Once we got this period ver with we played pretty well and should have grabbed a goal or two.

Bigirimana's corner was tipped over the bar before Williamson took a shot at goal which was blocked by a defender. Shola should have done better with the rebound. A minute later Gosling hit the outside of the post with a left foot shot. This was one of his better games. Gabriel Obertan linked up nicely with Shola and Vuckic before shooting across goal as our best period of dominance ended without a goal.

The ref managed to help spice the game up for a short while. He signalled for a drop ball and for the Maritimo player to win it unchallenged so he could pass it back to Elliot. Instead the Maritimo player thought he'd dribble off with the ball. Bigi made a superb tackle which the ref then booked him for! Not a word to the home player. Words were exchanged on the touchline and it became quite heated as they walked across the pitch following the half time whistle.

A brilliant 40 yard run from Shola early in the second half ended with his curling shot coming back off the crossbar. Brilliant build up, but having got himself into that position he really should have scored - true for him a few times tonight (and a lot of the past 12 years!) Obertan's involvement was repetitive too - beat man with ease, don't look up, pass to opponent.

Sammy Ameobi came on for Vuckic making him and Shola the first brothers to play for Newcastle in a European game. Sammy beat three men and squared to Shola who in turn played it on to Amalfitano who blasted the ball high and wide. Amalfitano had another quiet game tonight.

Maritimo had another couple of chances including a header that hit the underside of the bar with Santon then stopping it from crossing the line, but the game drifted out to a 0 v 0 draw.

Ferguson got 20 minutes replacing Amalfitano and Marveaux came on for Obertan with ten to go, but neither had enough time to make a real impact.

We should have scored at least one goal though they probably feel exactly the same way. It's a point in the bag and young Bigirimana was once again very impressive.

Bordeaux beat Club Brugge 4 v 0 in the other game from our group - Bordeaux are our next Europa opponents at St James' on October 4th.

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