IT took 23 minutes before the Newcastle United fans had seen enough. The â€œSackPardew.comâ€ placards were held aloft and chants of â€œWe want Pardew outâ€ rang around the ground. No change there then, coming as it did six minutes after Newcastle had gone 1-0 down.
The travelling natives were already restless and yet another Premier League defeat beckoned to heap more misery on their beleaguered manager, Alan Pardew. Yet what transpired gave the Geordie hordes perhaps a sliver of hope for the future. And perhaps Pardew a stay of execution.
At times, it made for grim viewing. But Newcastle twice hauled themselves back from a one-goal deficit, forced a hard-earned draw against a smooth-as-ever Swansea side and moved up to 18th in the table.
The stats still make difficult reading. No win in seven league matches this season and 20 points from a possible 78 in 2014. But at least Newcastle, for once, refused to lie down and capitulate meekly â€“ as they have done so often in the past. Two goals from Papiss CissÃ© did the trick and, boy, were they needed on Tyneside.
â€œIâ€™m trying to improve the team the best I can,â€ Pardew said. â€œWeâ€™re not playing the sort of way I would like, weâ€™re a little bit tight. Weâ€™ve just got to grind it and make sure we get ourselves a win. Then the confidence will come back.â€
The Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, in customary white shirt and club tie but without a jacket on a cool South Wales afternoon, watched from the directorsâ€™ box. Before kick-off, he seemed to be in a good mood, posing for selfies with young fans.
The usual large contingent of travelling Newcastle supporters were in good voice, too, and encouraged by a solid, if unadventurous, start from their team. Gabriel Obertan, making his first league start for 18 months, drove narrowly wide early on after a mistake from Gylfi Sigurdsson.
But 37 seconds later, in the 17th minute, Newcastle went 1-0 down. Wilfried Bony exchanged neat passes with Sigurdsson and left Paul Dummett trailing before clipping a simple shot past the goalkeeper Tim Krul. It was Bonyâ€™s first goal of the season â€“ and just too easy.
Pardew stood impassively in his technical area, arms folded. It could have got worse for him, with Ki Sung-yueng nodding wastefully wide from a Sigurdsson free-kick and Krul saving smartly from a Bony volley.
But Newcastle rallied and drew level two minutes before the break. Obertan crossed low from the right and CissÃ© nipped in at the near post to touch in his third goal of the season. At last, the Geordies had something to cheer.
It did not last long, though. Swansea regained their lead, without having to work too hard, when Moussa Sissoko gave the ball away cheaply and Sigurdsson released Routledge to dink in a delightful effort over Krul.
Krul made a superb diving stop to deny Bony before Newcastle equalised again. The substitute Sammy Ameobi crossed in the 75th minute and CissÃ© was on hand to steer it past the exposed Krul.
Both sides gave it a go towards the end â€“ Swansea out of embarrassment at not having despatched their lowly rivals earlier, Newcastle out of desperation to get the win that they so desperately crave.
It made for a stirring climax to an essentially drab contest but one that left Garry Monk, the Swansea manager feeling frustrated. â€œThat was two points dropped,â€ Monk said. â€œThe goals conceded were very poor, the lack of concentration cost us dearly.
â€œWe knew Newcastle were fighting for their lives and they showed that in their performance. The game was there for us to win if we did the right things. But possession came too easy to us and we got sloppy. That was our downfall.â€
The Newcastle fans did not mind. They applauded their players and manager at the end â€“ when was the last time they did that? â€“ and Pardew turned briefly towards the black-and-white masses and returned the compliments with a brief clap of his hands.
There is still a long way to go before talk of a recovery can be bandied about, but itâ€™s a start. – The Guardian