By Alan Gallacher at St Mirren Park
SAINTS were given a valuable footballing lesson this evening as multi-million pound Newcastle United eased to a win. Goals from Cisse and Debuchy were more than enough to ensure the Tynesiders grabbed the win, but for Saints it was a night to work hard and learn from those they were up against.
Thankfully we won’t play teams of this calibre every week during the coming season, if indeed at all, but the experience the youngsters will have gained from trading blows with seasoned professionals not to mention internationalists is invaluable. Perhaps more than any game this pre-season the result meant very little, it was all about what we take away from the encounter.
Newcastle turned up armed with the big guns, but of far more interest was the starting line-up from Saints only five days before the big kick off on Saturday. Danny Lennon stuck with the same team as started against Stockport at the weekend with Thomas Reilly replacing Michael Richardson, who was on the United bench, the only change.
Newcastle, a few more weeks away from real action, fielded as near to as strong an eleven as they could muster. World Cup stars, big-money signings and former Saint, Paul Dummett, all appeared in a Toon team captained by Fabricio Coloccini. Conor Newton was on the bench.
The men from Tyneside had the first opening, Papiss Cisse running away from Jim Goodwin only to make a real hash of his shot. You would have bet your bottom dollar on a striker who has scored on the biggest stages to have done better.
The Senegalse internationalist wasn’t to be so wasteful just short of the twenty minute mark. A swift interchange of passes cut open the Buddies defence although the finish from the hitman was sublime to open the scoring.
Newcastle were always in control and only a flying save from David Cornell kept out Dan Gosling. Where one United player failed another was to succeed minutes later, Matthew Debuchy waltzing through gaping holes before slotting home.
Quite what Danny Lennon made of the opening half is anyone’s guess. His team had more or less failed to land a glove on their English Premiership opponents who had dominated the game whilst in second gear at best.
Half-Time: St Mirren 0-2 Newcastle United
United were straight on the attack from the restart with Gosling heading over when unmarked from an inch perfect cross from recently introduced sub, David Santon. This was the pattern of the half to come with Newcastle stroking the ball around, Saints by and large chasing shadows and the visitors failing to show a brutal side by converting their supremacy into goals.
The difference in touch and technique between the sides was night and day with the likes of Ben Arfa and Tiote outstanding for the Geordies as they sailed through the encounter. Saints could have got some consolation from the night when young sub Sean Kelly headed over when picked out by Gary Teale and then dragged wide of the far post moments later.
In terms of fitness and defensive work this was a decent exercise, but in terms of offensive planning it was next to no good as we barely got anything going in an attacking sense. The proof of the pudding will be on Saturday when we go to Inverness and only then does the talking stop and the results truly count.
Full-Time: St Mirren 0-2 Newcastle United
St Mirren: Cornell, van Zanten (Naismith), McAusland, Goodwin (McGregor), Grainger, McGinn (Dillon), McGowan, Harkins (Kelly), Teale, Thompson (Brady), Reilly.
Subs Not Used: Mair, Yaqub, Cuddihy, Scullion, Stewart, Dilo (GK).
Newcastle United: Elliot (Alnwick 65), Debuchy (Santon 46), Yanga-Mbiwa, Coloccini, Dummett, Anita, Tiote (Newton 73), Ben Arfa (Vuckic), Gosling (Gouffran 65), Sammy Ameobi, Cisse (Campbell 65).
Subs Not Used: Streete, Williamson, Richardson.
Referee: John Beaton.
Assistant Referee: Graeme Leslie.
Assistant Referee: Stuart MacMillan.
Match report pictures by Allan Picken – © Allan Picken Photography.
Match Gallery Pictures © John Millar.