5:02pm Saturday 14th December 2013
By Paul Fraser
Full-time: Newcastle United 1 Southampton 1
JAY RODRIGUEZ struck a second half equaliser at St James' Park to prevent a fourth consecutive home win for Newcastle United in the Premier League.
When Yoan Gouffran made the most of a chance that fell his way midway through the first half, Newcastle looked comfortable and on course to inflict more North-East misery on the Saints.
But with 25 minutes remaining, Rodriguez made the most of a stupid mistake by Davide Santon in the middle of the pitch to grab an equaliser which earned Southampton a point on Tyneside for the first time since May 2001.
In a dramatic final 20 minutes both sides could have won the game, while referee Mike Jones even ended up floored after a bizarre accidental incident when Moussa Sissoko flicked his hand in the official's face.
Deep in to injury-time Newcastle's goalkeeper coach Andy Woodman and a member of the Southampton backroom team were ordered down the tunnel after both benches clashed following a late tackle from Morgan Schneiderlin on Massadio Haidara.
And Newcastle were unfortunate not to find a winner in the dying seconds before Jones blew time on an enthralling second half.
A fifth yellow card of the season at Manchester United a week earlier for Yohan Cabaye meant manager Alan Pardew had to make one change to that successful side.
Cabaye's absence led to the recall of Shola Ameobi in attack alongside Loic Remy and the long-serving front-man looked hungry to impress.
He might be without a goal in the Premier League this season, but he chased every lost cause and one of his runs down the line almost created the opener inside 13 minutes.
Ameobi was played in down the right by Mathieu Debuchy. The forward's cross rolled towards goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga but Gouffran nipped in ahead of him.
Gouffran squared a pass in to the feet of Remy and when the goal looked on Calum Chambers was in the right place at exactly the right time on the line to clear.
Southampton survived that scare and, with every little problems posed at the other end, Newcastle did edge in front in the 28th minute.
Debuchy's free-kick to the 18-yard box was nodded down by Mike Williamson towards the penalty spot. Centre-back Jos Hooiveld opted to try to clear with his left instead of his right foot and his mistake allowed Gouffran to nip in and slot in the first goal.
That was Gouffran's sixth goal of the season and was just rewards for another energetic display on the flanks which caused Southampton problems.
Such had been Southampton's inability to put Newcastle under pressure, Mauricio Pochettino introduced Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin at half-time.
Southampton saw more of the ball after the change, so Pardew made a change of his own on the hour. Shortly after Ameobi headed wide from an unmarked position, he was replaced by Papiss Cisse.
The closest Southampton had come to equalising at that point was not long after that. After Luke Shaw had ran down the line and passed in to Steven Davis, the midfield's first touch sat nicely in front of him and his second was a sweet volley which shaved the post from 22 yards.
But Southampton's leveller did arrive in the 65th minute.
When Davide Santon gifted possession to the visitors in the middle, red shirts counter attacked quickly. Rodriguez swapped passes with Davis before beating the offside trap to side-foot beyond Tim Krul.
Rodriguez would have had a second minutes later but his header was denied by Krul and then Newcastle went even close immediately after.
When Gazzaniga made a complete mess of Lallana's back pass, the ball fell for Remy. He took a touch and was faced with the goal in front of him. Rather than hit the target, though, he somehow completely missed the target from 12 yards.
After that there were half chances at either end as well as the chaos involving the referee and the two benches. The score, however, remained the same.
NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-4-2): Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon (Haidara 78); Sissoko, Tiote, Anita, Gouffran (Ben Arfa 73); Remy, Sh Ameobi (Cisse 61). Subs: Elliot (gk), Yanga-Mbiwa, Obertan, Sa Ameobi.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Gazzaniga; Chambers, Lovren, Hooiveld, Shaw; Davis, Ward-Prowse (Schneiderlin 46), Cork, Rodriguez (Gallagher 90); Osvaldo (Lallana 46), Lambert. Subs: Cropper, Yoshida, Fonte, Ramirez.
© Copyright 2001-2014 Newsquest Media Group