Newcastle v Strikers

Round 20 report by Mick Kmet
Newcastle United v Brisbane Strikers

Newcastle Unitedıs seven game winless streak came to an end with a hard fought 1-0 win over the Brisbane Strikers at Energy Australia Stadium Friday night.

Unitedıs win came through a goal from Australian Under 20 international Jobe Wheelhouse, who was amazingly diagnosed with Shingles the day before the match. It was a mighty effort from the midfielder playing in the strikerıs position, and though tiring badly late in the game still kept running and trying till the final whistle despite cramping several times.

Newcastle pressed early in the game with some promising play from recent AIS graduate Joel Theissan on the left. Theissan was a late inclusion in the strating line-up with the withdrawal of skipper Robert Middleby, whose injury plagued season continues.

It was Theissan who engineered Newcastleıs first opportunity in the 8th minute. A low cross by the youngster skidded across the wet deck. This caused a goalmouth scramble which fell to Jobe Wheelhouse outside the box. Wheelhouse sent a thundering drive that went straight to the chest of Brisbane goalkeeper Scott Higgins.

Seconds later Wheelhouse should have put Newcastle ahead when Esala Masi sent him free. Wheelhouseıs shot was well saved by Higgins.

Newcastle hit the lead in the 21st minute through a fine header from Wheelhouse. A pin-point cross from Craig Deans found Wheelhouse on the penalty spot who headed low and hard and left Higgins with no chance.

This was Newcastleıs first goal in four games.

Brisbane was dealt a blow in the 36th minute when Higgins had to leave the field with an elbow gash injury after a clash with Scott Thomas. Until Higginıs return in the 40th minute captain/coach Stuart McLaren took the gloves leaving them a man short. Fortunately for Brisbane, they were not punished.

Brisbane nearly grabbed an equaliser in the fourth minute of first-half injury time when a deflection from a Royce Brownlee shot had Newcastle custodian Tom Willis stretching at his best.

Brisbane came close again in the 59th minute when a Josh Rose shot was thwarted by Willis diving acrobatically to his right.

Brisbane was pressing hard in the latter stages of the game and Newcastle was appearing to wilt on the heavy pitch as the away team was gaining ascendency.

Luke Morley squandered another Brisbane chance in the 70th minute with a rash shot that skewed across goal.

However, this was as close as Brisbane could get as the final whistle signalled an excellent victory for the home team.

Newcastle coach Ian Crook was naturally glad to get the monkey off his teamıs back.

³Tonight wasnıt pretty², Crook said in the post-match press conference. ³Weıve played so much better than tonightıs game this year and got beatenŠ I am really happy with the result.²

³Brisbane are well organised and worked their socks off. They are a much better team than most people have given them credit for this year.²

Stuart McLaren was naturally disappointed.

³We didnıt play as well as we can and didnıt adapt to the Newcastle style of play and the conditions tonight. Newcastle pressured us early and didnıt allow us build from the back which is our normal style of play.²