Thursday, April 2, 2015

2 April 2005 - And Then There Were Eight

On 2 April 2005, visiting Aston Villa pounded Newcastle 0-3 before a crowd of 52,306 at St. James' Park. It was an all-out humiliation for the hosts, who finished the match with only eight men thanks to three red cards, two of which were issued for a fight between Newcastle teammates Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer.

Newcastle entered the match as heavy favorites, having lost only once in their previous 17 matches. Villa, meanwhile, had won away from home only twice in 15 attempts that season. But any optimism among the home supporters was dashed by Juan Pablo Angel's 5th-minute strike that put the visitors ahead 0-1. 

Newcastle applied constant pressure for an equalizer that never came, despite several close misses and a legitimate cry for a penalty when skipper Alan Shearer's header struck the arm of Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel. The referee, however, ruled that the contact was not deliberate.

The referee did award a penalty kick for a handball in the second half, as Newcastle substitute Steven Taylor handled a Villa shot on the line, earning himself a red card in the process. Gareth Barry converted the 73rd-minute kick to extend Villa's lead to 2-1, then extended it further when Darius Vassell earned another penalty thanks to a challenge from Newcastle's Stephen Carr in the 80th minute. That's when the match moved from embarrassing to surreal.

Shortly after Barry's second penalty kick, Bowyer apparently took offense when Dyer did not pass him the ball and the two ended up in a full-bore brawl. Barry stepped in to separate the two, but both Bowyer and Dyer were sent off for violent conduct.

Oddly enough, Bowyer left Newcastle for West Ham at the end of the 2005-06 season, then was joined by Dyer, who arrived at Upton Park in the summer of 2007. They continued to play together until January 2009, when Bowyer left for Birmingham City.

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