The Giant Killers

Subtitle

 

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 20

 

Stevenage 3-1 Newcastle United

Third Round: Saturday January 8th 2011

Broadhall Way, Stevenage

Attendance: 6,644

Scorers: Mike Williamson {own goal 50}, Michael Bostwick {55}, Joey

Barton {90+2}, Peter Winn {90+3}

Matt Cardle, the winner of ITV's talent show, X Factor the previous month was topping the charts with 'When we collide', Jack Black was in the title role opposite Emily Blunt at the movies in 'Gulliver's Travels', Politicians began backing a call for all men in the Bristol area to face DNA testing in a bid to find the killer of Jo Yeats the week before Christmas and Jared Loughner opened fire on a constituency meeting held by Congresswoman Gabriellle Gifford in Tucson, Arizona, killing five people and wounding twelve others including the Congresswoman.

In football, the main headline of third round day had been written before a ball was kicked when Liverpool sacked their manager, Roy Hodgson that morning, meaning that it would take a shock of huge proportions to share the back page space in the Sunday papers. That result had been delivered during the afternoon when Sunderland lost to Notts County, no doubt to the huge delight of the Newcastle fans travelling to Stevenage for their evening kick off in front of the ESPN television cameras, though there was always room for a better story if it could be written in Hertfordshire.

Much was made of this tie in the press in the lead up to the game as the two sides had a history, which was tainted with bitterness. The two sides were drawn together thirteen years before, at a time when Newcastle were enjoying a halcyon period, which promised their best chance of being crowned champions since 1927. The Magpies were desperate to get their tie with Stevenage out of the way and begged the then non league side to switch the venue from their tiny Broadhall Way Stadium to St James' Park. When the non leaguers refused, Newcastle then began applying more sinister pressure, demanding that the FA declare Stevenage's ground unsuitable for hosting the tie, despite the fact Borough had gained a safety certificate and built a temporary stand to hold visiting fans. Even the Newcastle supporter's club backed the non league side saying that their own club were going over the top in their protests. The FA ruled in Stevenage's favour but the entire incident left a bitter taste between the clubs with press reports of angry telephone calls between the officials of both clubs in the days before the tie.

That bad blood between the clubs continued onto the pitch in a bad tempered match, though strangely there was a great sense of friendship between the respective sets of fans, though the visiting Novocastrian's sense of humour was severely tested in a drawn game which gave Newcastle a replay that they certainly didn't want. That game also led to controversy with a goal from Alan Shearer that hadn't actually crossed the goal line. Stevenage battled hard but ultimately went down 1-2 and left St James' Park with a very bitter taste in their mouths. 

Newcastle went to the cup final that year but lost and indeed their great side of the turn of the century eventually broke up having been so close to winning both League and cup but ultimately failing to deliver a major trophy to the club.

Moving on thirteen years and both sides were very different clubs. Newcastle had suffered relegation in 2009, bouncing back into the top flight at the first attempt in 2010 before taking the unusual step of sacking Chris Houghton, the manager who guided them back to the big time in the middle of the season, despite the fact the club were holding their own in mid table. Alan Pardew arrived in December and was tasked with the role of guiding the Magpies through the rest of one of the tightest Premier league seasons in living memory where two wins could put a team into European contention and two defeats into serious relegation trouble.

Stevenage Borough gained the League status that they had so hoped the Newcastle cup tie of '98 would spur them to but it came much later than most had expected. The club were widely regarded as the best non league club in the land in 1998 and promotion to the Football League was sure to happen in the next two or three seasons but the club were in turmoil off the field and the financial worries, bad relations between the club and local council and bad relations with other non league clubs all helped see Borough become non league also rans before recovering to finally clinch promotion to League Two in 2010. Their 2011 cup run would be their first as a league club.

 Broadhall Way had been greatly improved in the years since Newcastle's first visit and this time there was none of the ill feeling that marred the build up to the previous tie.The same couldn't be said of the Newcastle team who were a shadow of the star studded line up that graced the Hertfordshire ground two decades earlier. This side was a developing one, trying to find their feet after sweeping all before them to win the old Second Division Championship the previous year. the closest thing the club had to a Shearer was the much talked of Andy Carroll, a local lad befitting the club's theme tune 'Local hero' which plays before every home game. Carroll stepped up to Premier League football with the kind of ease usually associated with a striker destined for great things. In an era where the wealth was held by a select few who could cherry pick the best players of every other club it was already clear in the January transfer window that The Magpies would have to work hard to stave off the lure of the cash rich Manchester and London clubs.

Carroll also came with a flamboyant off the field reputation that had tarnished many a great striker's career before and United would have to do without his services for this cup tie with speculation that an injury picked up on the field had been made more by his off the field night life antics. The Magpies still had great experience to fall back on with their loyal Argentinian International, Fabricio Coloccini, who stayed with the club when they were relegated two years earlier, shoring up their defence. The midlfield was bolstered by the former England Internationals, Joey Barton and Alan Smith, the latter of whom had been a League Champion with Manchester United in 2007 while, in the absence of Carroll, it was up to Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best to score the goals. The former was a Danish International who twice won the Scottish title while at Glasgow Rangers. The latter was a Republic of Ireland International who patiently bided his time on the sidelines until Carroll's injury. Best took his chance with aplomb, scoring a hat-trick as Newcastle impressively swept aside West Ham 5-0 in a Premier League game three days before the cup tie. The watching Stevenage party must no doubt have been impressed by the form of their opponents.

Stevenage themselves, like Newcastle, seemed to be doing enough to adapt to their new higher level but carried little in the way of big time experience into their cup tie. Goalkeeper Chris Day had often sat on the Tottenham bench but only once turned out for the London side in the Premier League while defender, Jon Ashton had also been a reserve at Leicester in the early years of the Century, making just seven Premier League appearances. 

Playing Football in an era where even the fifth tier got occasional live National TV coverage would certainly ease the nerves of Graham Westley's players as the crew from ESPN set up their outside broadcast unit that afternoon but even so, this game would be watched by Football fans all over the World via the Internet. Westley still expected his players to go out and get into Newcastle and sent his players out with the simple yet amazing message to go and win 5-0!

Newcastle took the field in a blue change kit with manager, Alan Pardew utilising his squad to make five changes from the side that  demolished West Ham. Despite the changes, the visitors settled quickly with Joey Barton's early drive well held by Day.That was the only save Day made in a first half where the home side soon got into their stride and began to have the better of the play. Defender, Mark Roberts should have put the League Two side in front when connecting with a ninth minute corner while Michael Bostwick forced a good save from Tim Krul before the interval.

Newcastle looked jittery at the back at times in the first half but a change in tactics from Alan Pardew at the interval, bringing on Nile Ranger for the ineffective Best was expected to turn the pattern of the game in the visitor's favour and make Borough pay for being unable to secure a half time lead.

Instead the game turned on a huge slice of luck five minutes after the interval. When Stacy Long unleashed a drive from the edge of the box it looked like it was heading well wide. A perhaps over cautious Tim Krul positioned himself to make a save even so, only to see the strike lash off defender, Mike Williamson's forehead and deflect wickedly just inside Krul's unguarded near post.

Newcastle were still trying to get back into the game when it slipped further from their grasp five minutes later. Yet again the visitors looked indecisive in their defending and allowed Stevenage to build a good move that ended with a well struck long range shot from Bostwick that this time Krul had no hope of stopping. {image left: Courtesey IndyMedia}

With a solid lead to defend, Stevenage were able to make themselves more compact as a unit and harder for Newcastle to break down as Pardew made more changes to try and change the game. The introduction of Ivorian International Cheik Tiote in the fifty-eighth minute had an effect but not what Pardew was looking for when his wild, off the ground lunge at Ashton with twenty minutes remaining left referee, Andre Mariner with no choice but to issue a red card.

Once down to ten men there seemed little hope left for Newcastle as they were unable to create any clear cut chances until Joey Barton took a touch from twenty-five yards out before unleashing an excellent shot that left Day grasping at fresh air as it flew into the roof of the net. With the Newcastle goal coming two minutes into stoppage time there seemed little hope of there being time for an equaliser.

As it turned out there was time for another goal but it wasn't the script that the Newcastle fans were hoping for. Within thirty seconds of Borough kicking off, John Mousinho put Peter Winn through to slot the ball past the advancing Krul to wrap the tie up.

The final whistle brought back scenes from a bygone era as the now frowned upon pitch invasion went ahead despite the best efforts of the stewards to prevent it. The players were mobbed by jubilant fans but there was a ugly incident when Stevenage's Scott Laird was punched by a fan. The incident, caught on camera in the live TV coverage quickly made its way onto the internet, though curiously it seemed that it was a Stevenage, and not Newcastle fan who punched the player.

Borough manager Graham Westley proudly affirmed to the media that 1998 was avenged and that his team was one full of players capable of stepping up to a higher level. His counterpart, Alan Pardew was naturally more downbeat, feeling that his team looked tired after a punishing Christmas schedule.

Stevenage: 16:Chris Day, 2:Lawrie Wilson, 3:Scott Laird, 5:Jon Ashton, 14:Mark Roberts, 25:Ronnie Henry {replaced by 18:David Bridges-85}, 8:Stacy Long, 21:John Mousinho, 24:Michael Bostwick, 17:Peter Winn {replaced by Yemi Oudubade-90+4}, 20:Chris Beardsley, unused substitutes: Bayes, Foster, Griffin, May, Sinclair: Manager: Graham Westley

Newcastle United: 26:Tim Krul, 2;Fabricio Coloccini, 6:Mike Williamson, 12:Danny Simpson, 14:James Perch, 4:Kevin Nolan, 7:Joey Barton, 10:Wayne Routledge, 17:Alan Smith {replaced by 24:Cheik Tiote-58, sent off 70}, 11:Peter Lovenkrands {replaced by 38:Airey-78}, 20:Leon Best {replaced by 30:Nile Ranger-46} unused substitutes: Soderberg, Kadar, Guthrie, Shane Ferguson: Manager:Alan Pardew

Referee:Andre Mariner

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