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Azza strikes just in time

A stoppage time leveller from Aaron Lennon secured a point against Newcastle at St James Park on Saturday.

A stoppage time leveller from Aaron Lennon secured a point against Newcastle at St James Park on Saturday.

In what was not the most inspiring encounter, Fabricio Colloccini gave the home side the lead just before the hour with a finely-taken goal and a thrilling finish followed in the final moments, Lennon saved the day before the team launched a final assualt, but couldn't quite snatch the full three points.

Heurelho Gomes was missing with a shoulder injury sustained in training on Friday, while Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Wilson Palacios were both absent with knee injuries.

The absence of Assou-Ekotto resulted in Gareth Bale reverting to left-back and provided the opportunity for new signing Steven Pienaar to become the 600th player used by the Club in Football League/Premier League contests since election to the league in 1908.

Jermaine Jenas was restored in central midfield and Jermain Defoe replaced Peter Crouch in attack, with the little striker on the end of our first chance when he neatly shook off his marker, but the shot drifted wide of the post.

Defoe had another chance from a tight angle shortly after Bale was withdrawn appearing to be suffering with a back problem.

Sebastien Bassong was introduced to a chorus of boos from the home crowd following his one-season association with the St James' Park side. He slotted in at left-back.

Shola Ameobi blasted over the bar from an inviting position on 25 minutes, while Defoe was presented with a further half-chance when a clearance cannoned into the face of Danny Guthrie and rebounded towards his own goal.

Leon Best hit the bar on the half-hour mark when an attempted Luka Modric clearance did not come off and Luis Enrique dispatched a measured cross that Cudicini could not reach and the striker was poised at the far post.

Lennon came close to unlocking the gate following a speedy run down the flank that left markers in his wake, before Defoe shot over from outside the area.

It was a half where neither side established an authority in the game, a slightly scrappy affair that required a little poise and composure.

Defoe had a glorious chance just before the whistle after a flick from Rafael van der Vaart set him free in front of goal. Steve Harper advanced, foiled and kept the contest goalless at the break.

A Jonas Guitierrez cross was headed wide by Best in the opening moments of the second half before Jenas shot wide after a slick passage of play involving Pienaar, van der Vaart and Modric.

The home side took the lead on 58 minutes when an angled delivery was taken on the chest by Coloccini, who then unleashed a low shot past the touch of Cudicini and inside the far post. The stadium became noisy for the first time in the afternoon and a comeback was required.

Lennon's shot was diverted just wide after a clever through ball from Pienaar, but Newcastle could have gone 2-0 up on 68 minutes when Cudicini pulled off a fine save to deny substitute Peter Lovenkrands when the striker found himself beyond the last defender in a central position.

Jenas was taken off with 20 minutes remaining and replaced by Crouch. The team shape switched to three central defenders, with Hutton and Lennon out wide - and three in midfield, with Crouch joining Defoe up front.


An Ameobi turn and shot forced another fine stop out of Cudicini before, at the other end, Modric rattled Harper's bar with a shot from the edge of the area.

Niko Kranjcar was our final change with 83 minutes on the clock, taking over from Pienaar.

Nile Ranger perhaps should have sealed it shortly after coming on, losing his man in the area before passing across the face of the goal.

It proved a costly miss. Lennon took the ball inside after being supplied by Defoe and drilled home inside the near post past Harper just after the sign went up indicating four minutes of stoppage time, just rewards for going for broke in that final 20 minutes.

Newcastle: Harper; Simpson, Colloccini, Williamson, Enrique; Guthrie (Perch, 75), Nolan, Barton, Gutierrez; Best (Lovenkrands, 66), Ameobi (Ranger, 88). Unused subs: Krul, Campbell, Xisco, Ferguson.

Spurs: Cudicini; Hutton, Dawson, Gallas, Bale (Bassong, 11); Lennon, Jenas (Crouch, 71), Modric, Pienaar (Kranjcar, 84); Van der Vaart; Defoe. Unused subs: Pletikosa, Corluka, Kaboul, Sandro.

Goals: Newcastle - Coloccini 58. Spurs - Lennon 90.

Attendance: 51,010

Referee: Mr M Halsey.