By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

Newcastle United’s desperate run continued as they managed to blow a 1-0 lead and slump to a 1-2 loss at home to Reading.

Yohan Cabaye’s stunning free kick gave the 49,500 crowd reason to believe they were going to record a much-needed win, but a six minute brace from substitute Adam Le Fondre snatched the hope away and prompted the massive crowd to show their discontent at the final whistle.

It was something of a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Magpies, who looked excellent in the first half and like relegation fodder in the second. Alan Pardew didn’t help matters when he withdrew the excellent Cabaye midway through the second period and replaced him with Gael Bigirimana, in a blatant attempt to hang on to their slender lead.

It was undoubtedly the wrong decision from the under-fire boss, whose team enjoyed 70% possession at the halfway point and forced Reading keeper Adam Federici into a number of fantastic saves.

The way Cabaye controlled the match from his central midfield slot was testament to how big a player for Newcastle he is. His passing, vision and expert decision making made Newcastle tick, and he was the one creating chances throughout the first half.

He forced Federici into a good save early in the half, before trying to set up goal-shy Papiss Cisse. Cabaye floated an inch-perfect diagonal pass for the Senegal striker who connected well with a header, only for Federici to claw it away.

Fittingly though, it was the Frenchman who broke the deadlock when his pass was collected by Sylvain Marveaux and the former Rennes midfielder was brought down 22 yards out. Cabaye was first in the queue for the set piece and effortlessly curled his shot into the top corner, leaving the keeper stranded.

Much of Reading’s first half tactics centred around them hitting Newcastle on the counter attack and capitalising from set pieces. Before Cabaye had struck, Pavel Pogrebnyak had wasted a good chance to give the visitors the lead, but the Royals went closer after going behind. Free-kick maestro Ian Harte’s teasing ball in was deflected by Jonas Gutierrez and had everyone beaten, only for it to flash wide of the post and leave Newcastle breathing a sigh of relief.

As the first half ended, it looked clear that Newcastle were the better side and the near-capacity crowd were fully expecting more domination in the second period. However, in the 15 minutes at the interval, Pardew clearly told his troops to shut up shop and try and hang on to the slender lead, despite playing so well in the first half.

The tactical naivety was going unpunished for the first 15 minutes, as the quality of Cabaye and the neat play of Vurnon Anita were keeping things ticking over. The turning point came after Reading manager turned to his bench and summoned Le Fondre, who equalised within 60 seconds of entering the fray.

Jimmy Kebe was released down the right wing and Le Fondre was sprinting clear of Mike Williamson in the middle and despite losing his feet and sliding head first towards goal, Kebe’s cross connected with the striker and it trickled past Krul.

After being pegged back and needing to react to letting the game slip, Pardew incensed the home crowd when he replaced Cabaye with 19-year old Gael Bigirimana. After the game Pardew said Cabaye had asked to come off after fatiguing, but surely his quality could have seen Newcastle hang on to a draw.

Just three minutes after Bigirimana entered the game, Le Fondre struck again. Kebe nodded a Jobi McAnuff cross down, Hope Akpan completely miss-kicked and it fell to Le Fondre, who curled around Williamson to beat Krul and complete Reading’s second come-from-behind victory in as many games.

With Cabaye now on the bench alongside fellow playmaker Marveaux, the chances of Newcastle reacting and snatching something late on were slim to say the least. However, they did create one clear-cut chance but unfortunately for them, it fell to Cisse.

Mathieu Debuchy’s cross was flicked on by James Perch and fell to Cisse in acres of space at the back post. Any in-form striker would have buried the chance but Cisse rushed his effort, swivelling too quickly and blazing his shot way over the bar.

With that, the stands started to empty, apart from the justified lot who stayed to boo their side – more specifically their manager – off the field. The defeat leaves Newcastle just two points above the relegation zone and in real trouble. They lost a must-win game and now face Aston Villa in ten days time knowing that a loss could put them in the bottom three.

Something has to change. Fast.

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  1. nclutd82

    What are u on about, he’s saying that to cover his arse! He took Cabaye off to hold a 1:0! Every pass was going through him. It’s like a chain, remove a link and what happens? No more chain!

  2. Sheriff Hill Lad

    To top it all Pardew then went on to blame the crowd! stating the "crowds negativity" transfered to the pitch! what a plonker.
    They are at SJP in front of their faithfull, if they attacked Reading like they went at MAN-U and Arsenal they could have hammered any lesser team! its you Mr Pardew who is the negative one!


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