A strange afternoon at SJP saw us beat and relegate a desperate Cardiff side in a game that Newcastle fans protestwas far more memorable for the action off the pitch.  We lined up with Shola and Remy paired up front and it will be very interesting to see how many of the starting line up will be taking their places come the next home match in August.

We were the better side from the word go and for a side needing a win to harbour any hopes of avoiding relegation, Cardiff were simply dreadful.  The scene had been set in the stands from the word go with anti-Ashley and Pardew chants and the manager was greeted with sustained boos as he made his first of few forays out of his dugout – the promise to stay sat down more often pushed onto him by the discontent of the fans.

An early goal from Shola failed to dampen the disquiet too, when he headed home a Sissoko cross and whilst the lad undoubtedly has his faults, I was pleased to see him get what will almost certainly be a final goal at SJP.  Fans forget some of the injuries Shola has played through and though I accept he will always divide support (ironic to mention given this afternoon), he’s never been a dick or come across as anything other than a smashing lad.  Good luck to him.

The main interest in the rest of the half came from a sighting of Hatem Ben Arfa in a directors box in the corner of the Milburn, which led to streams of autograph hunters going over and chanting of the Frenchman’s name with the game played out in the background, almost as a bizarre sideshow.

The second half saw more sustained protest against the running of the club with a number of banners being displayed and heavy handed stewarding being employed, including some fans being thrown out for displaying messages against the owner.  I’m not sure of the legal position on that one, so I’ll try not to pass comment.

With nothing of real note happening on the pitch, the first set of supporters began to leave on 60 minutes, following ten minutes of sustained, defiant chanting which produced the best atmosphere we’ve had all season.  By 69 minutes, a further swathe of supporters got up and left the ground for the afternoon, including myself and my dad so I’ll not be able to pass comment on the further two goal s we scored through Remy and Steven Taylor to condemn the Welshman to relegation.

While I was encouraged by sustained protest from the stands, I found the whole afternoon really uncomfortable and took no pleasure at all in being one of the thousands that left with over 20 minutes to go.  One thing I would be at pains to point out was that I certainly didn’t see any ‘them and us’ with the protesters – no tutting or disapproving glances even from the people you would expect sitting round you.

The whole situation at United is just sad and until Ashley goes then it’s just going to continue.  For what it’s worth, I think something will change over summer and Pardew will be gone because what is for certain is that we can’t have many more poisonous afternoons like that before just holding our hands up and packing in altogether.

Newcastle United – Krul 6, DEBUCHY 7, Williamson 7, Coloccini 7, Dummett 6, Anita 6, Tiote 6, Sissoko 7, Gouffran 5, Shola 6, Remy 6 (Report ends on 69 minutes before any substitutions)

GARETH HARRISON TF_INITIALS_LOGO