Newcastle United 1 Reading 2
You can always rely on Nile Ranger.
Just when Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew thought their season had hit rock-bottom, along came his controversial striker to stoke up the anger of their supporters.
The fans were already upset by a defeat which they attributed to substitutions made by Pardew, who also angered many by bemoaning the “negativity” within St James’ Park.
Then Ranger supplied his own astonishing Twitter verdict on the crowd reaction to a setback which leaves them as a genuine relegation candidates.
Ranger, who didn’t even make it off the bench, said: “Certain fans need to not come and support this team... Coming out to BOOO us.. Stay at home.. Don’t need ur BOO’s.... SAY NO MORE!!!”
Ranger has surely signalled the end of his Newcastle career with those words — and Pardew’s job is suddenly less secure, despite the eight-year contract he signed earlier this season.
Fans were particularly unhappy about the substitution of Yohan Cabaye which was sandwiched between the two Reading goals scored by Adam Le Fondre.
But Cabaye, back after injury for the time since early November, revealed: “I asked to come off because my groin became tight. I didn’t want to take any risks on my first start for so long.
“The fans were very angry but they did not realise I needed to come off. They should not blame the manager for that. It was my decision.
“You cannot expect a player to be 100% in my situation. I was not fit enough to finish the game and that is why I came off.’’
Pardew said: “The players and fans don’t want to see a great player go off and they didn’t know he was injured, so that was a difficult call for me because that negativity spread around the stadium and to the players.’’
The first-half had been a different story, with Cabaye putting United ahead with a sublime free-kick after Adam Federici kept Reading in the game with a series of fine saves from Papiss Cisse.
Then Le Fondre was sent on after 70 minutes and quickly struck twice to transform the game.
Le Fondre, 26, said: “I’ve come off the bench regularly and scored goals but I didn’t think I would get one so quickly. I was itching to get on, just dying to be involved. I’m buzzing with what has happened for me and the team. It was a great result for us and we showed fantastic character as a team.”
The revival would not have been possible, though, if keeper Adam Federici had not pulled off three fine saves from Cisse in the opening half-hour. “Adam was unbelievable in the first half,” said Le Fondre. “He was unreal.”
NEWCASTLE UNITED 4-4-2: Krul 6; Debuchy 6, Williamson 5, Coloccini 6, Santon 5; Marveaux 6 (Perch 66,5), Anita 7 (Obertan 80,5), Cabaye 8 (Bigirimana 75,5), Gutierrez 5; Cisse 6, Shola Ameobi 4.
READING 4-5-1: Federici 9; Kelly 6, Pearce 6, Mariappa 5, Harte 6; Kebe 6, Guthrie 6 (Le Fondre 79,8), Leigertwood 5, McAnuff 5, McCleary 5 (Akpan 66,5); Pogrebnyak 7.
Referee: A Marriner 7.
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