Jordan Ayew inspires Aston Villa to Newcastle draw
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | December 19, 2015
Newcastle United 1-1 Aston Villa
- Magpies pegged back by Villans in relegation six-pointer
- Toon captain Coloccini grabs opener from corner
- Ghana forward Jordan Ayew nets emphatic leveller
- Villa remain bottom at Christmas and 10 points from safety
- Newcastle stay 17th after other results go against them
Point apiece between relegation rivals
An inspired second-half display from Aston Villa attacker Jordan Ayew rescued a point for Remi Garde’s team on Tyneside, as he cancelled out the opener from Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini.
Amid mist rolling in off the Tyne and torrential rain, Magpies skipper Coloccini swooped on poor Villa marking from a late first-half corner to give Steve McClaren’s men the lead.
Yet the Villans rallied after the interval, with Ayew equalising with a stunning solo effort. More dropped points to a relegation rival, however, does little to ease the deep mire the West Midlands outfit find themselves in. They are 10 points from safety.
Toon continuity, Villa change
Villa would already be bottom of the Premier League at Christmas regardless of the result at St James’ Park, but even a switch of formation failed to revive their fortunes. Garde went 4-4-2, but with a midfield diamond rather than using wingers.
Second-half eye-catcher Ayew and Scott Sinclair were thus pushed up together in the visiting attack, but found service wanting. Such has been Villa’s problem all season so far.
McClaren, meanwhile, resisted the temptation to make changes despite impact subs Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez turning things round last time out at Tottenham.
Tough Tyne for both sides
In light of the conditions, this was far from the most attractive of fixtures on the eye with virtually no goalmouth action for the first half-hour.
Papiss Cisse’s tame header from a Daryl Janmaat cross thereafter fell straight at Brad Guzan, and was the Newcastle number nine’s last meaningful touch before he limped off injured.
Replacement Perez then saw Moussa Sissoko’s right-wing centre just evade him and a looping header tipped over by the Villa keeper when he got on the end of a Jack Colback free-kick.
Siem de Jong’s resultant corner inexplicably found its way through to Coloccini, and he steered home to give the rain-soaked Toon Army something to cheer and their team a half-time lead.
Villa found some teeth after the break, with Jordan Veretout stinging the palms of Rob Eliott when fellow summer signing and midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye laid off to him.
De Jong nodded wide from point-blank range as the Magpies missed a gilt-edge chance to double their lead, when Georginio Wijnaldum crossed to the back-post. McClaren subbed his number 10 soon after in favour of Perez.
Ayew arrives in second half
Garde threw Rudy Gestede on in place of Sinclair, and his more physical presence paid off almost immediately with a looping header tipped over by Elliot.
Ayew levelled things for Villa on the hour, striking sweetly on the turn when Veretout’s ball found its way over to him. Janmaat simply didn’t track his infield incursion.
Ghana international Ayew showed such determination when switched to a wider berth, almost teeing up Gestede and terrorising the home defence, but was needlessly booked for kicking the ball away.
Wijnaldum’s miscue when Perez split wide right and found him saw the Magpies miss another opening. Elliot turned another Gestede effort over to preserve a point apiece, while Ayoze also dragged over in stoppage time.
Newcastle are three points above the relegation zone (and 7/4 with Coral to go down) after earlier results when against them, but their mini-revival under McClaren and this unbeaten run continues.
Check out Coral’s Premier League section for more from the English top-flight.