Walters grabs late leveller against champs
Newcastle United 2 Ipswich Town 2
NEWCASTLE United were presented with the Championship trophy after being held to a draw by a plucky Ipswich Town at St James Park this afternoon.
The game attracted the biggest ever attendance figure for the division with the Toon Army coming to salute their heroes who go back to the Premier League after just one season at this level.
The visitors – with Connor Wickham outstanding – matched their illustrious opponents but looked like losing out when they conceded their second late soft penalty in two games.
But skipper Jon Walters scored a dramatic eighth goal of the season in the final minute of stoppage time after being put clear by Wickham.
After early Ipswich domination when they should have scored at least one goal, Andy Carroll gave the home team a 27th minute lead with a superbly clean header.
Wickham showed his class with an excellent leveller in the 42nd minute and Town were good value to be level until a questionable pass inside the box by substitute Liam Rosenior to led to a penalty that Shola Ameobi converted.
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Town made just one change from the side that drew 1-1 at home to Doncaster Rovers seven days earlier with Jaime Peters replacing Shane O’Connor at left back.
Wickham started the game up front on his own with Daryl Murphy in midfield and David Norris playing in front of the back four.
Schoolboy Newcastle supporter Jack Colback was playing his first senior game at St James Park having joined Sunderland and spending this season on loan at Portman Road.
Surprise call-ups into the squad were Alan Quinn and Liam Rosenior while Richard Wright kept his place on the bench ahead of Arran Lee-Barrett and Owen Garvan and Lee Martin were also included in the seven substitutes along with youngsters Tom Eastman and Billy Clark.
Newcastle included former Town loanee Danny Simpson with striker striker Shola Ameobi, who almost joined the Blues 18 months ago on the bench.
They made three changes with Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez and Peter Lovenkrands coming in for Alan Smith Fitz Hall and Joey Barton.
Town legend Mick Mills was on the pitch before the start being announced as Suffolk ambassador for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation that has raised �2.4million for cancer research.
He was accompanied Sir Bobby’s three sons and received a terrific reception.
Town were well represented in the stands with their fans sitting almost at cloud level behind the goal that the visitors attacked in the opening period.
Everybody else in the vast ground appeared to be wearing a black and white striped shirt!
Walters had two efforts in the opening two minutes from close range – one blocked and the rebound stopped on the line by the foot of Harper. Walters then missed his kick from a similar position and Leadbitter saw his effort deflected a foot wide. And all in the opening four minutes.
Town had begun well amid all the noise and fervour, and when Peters crossed well in the 18th minute, Walters was a whisker away from a touch in front of goal.
But it was Newcastle who took the lead in the 27th when Routledge beat Wright for pace down the left and his perfect cross was headed powerfully into the net by a soaring Carroll from seven yards.
Ipswich had enjoyed as much possession as Newcastle, and they were worth their equaliser in the 42nd minute when Walters touched on B Murphy’s long kick and Wickham touched the ball into space and then rifled a low shot beyond a helpless Harper from 16 yards.
It was 17-year-old Wickham’s sixth goal of the campaign and a candidate for the best of a good bunch.
Good play by Wickham won Town a 47th minute corner, and from Leadbitter’s cross, McAuley headed over when free in front of goal.
Lovenkrands shot over after a good run in the 59th minute as Newcastle stepped up a gear although Town were playing well enough for their fans to be heard against the massed ranks of the home supporters.
Crowd favourite Gutierrez made a tricky sortie deep into Town territory in the 62nd minute, and from his cross, B Murphy did well to beat the ball away; with Norris booting the loose ball clear from the six-yard box.
Ipswich were doing well against a quality side, but they conceded a bad goal in the 83rd minute after substitute Rosenior opted to play a short ball to Leadbitter inside the penalty area instead of booting up field.
Butt was waiting and he took possession of the ball and was brought down by a desperate Leadbitter challenge. There was no doubt about the spot kick, which Ameobi put away in style – low to the keeper’s right.
Town’s heads never went down, and in the third of three minutes of stoppage time Wickham put Walters into space and placed the ball beyond the exposed Harper for a dramatic and deserved equaliser.
Newcastle United: Harper; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Enrique; Routledge, Guthrie (sub Barton 75 mins), Nolan (Butt 75), Gutieerez; Lovenkrands (Ameobi 65), Carroll. Substitutes: Krul, Taylor, A Smith, Best.
Ipswich Town: B Murphy; D Wright (Clark 86), McAuley, T Smith, Peters; Norris; D Murphy (Rosenior 70), Leadbitter (Garvan 86), Colback, Walters; Wickham. Substitutes: R Wright, Eastman, Quinn, Martin
Referee: Mr C Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
Website marks – and stats
Newcastle United: Harper 7; Simpson 6, Coloccini 6, Williamson 7, Enrique 6; Routledge 8, Guthrie 7, Nolan 5, Gutieerez 7; Lovenkrands 5, Carroll 7.
Ipswich Town: B Murphy 7; D Wright 6, McAuley 8, T Smith 7, Peters 7; Norris 7; D Murphy 6, Leadbitter 6, Colback 7, Walters 7; Wickham 9.
Newcastle United 2
Goal: Carroll 27, Ameobi (pen) 83.
Attempts on target: 5
Attempts off target: 4
Free-kicks conceded (including offside): 10 .
Ipswich Town 2
Goal: Wickham 42, Walters 90
Bookings: D Wright 39, Norris 64
Attempts on goal: 6
Attempts off target: 10
Free-kicks conceded (including offside): 15.