Match report: Bordeaux 2 Newcastle United 0

DESPAIR ... James Perch reacts to a decision against Bordeaux.
DESPAIR ... James Perch reacts to a decision against Bordeaux.

SO that’s that for a couple of months. Newcastle United’s European campaign was put to bed for the winter on a chilly night in France.

And few, not least manager Alan Pardew, were complaining after last night’s 2-0 defeat at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

The Europa League has proved an expensive hobby for Newcastle and its fans in recent months.

It’s cost the club players – not least Hatem Ben Arfa – and the trips for supporters haven’t been cheap, either.

And one thing that has become abundantly clear, if it wasn’t when the summer’s transfer window closed, is that United’s squad just isn’t big enough to cope adequately with domestic and European football.

The anticipation on Tyneside which followed the club’s qualification for Europe last season after a five-year absence has been replaced with realism.

From here on in it’s going to get tougher – much tougher – in this competition.

Of course, there could be arrivals in next month’s transfer window. Surely, there has to be.

But few of the 1,000 or so fans who made the trip to south west France will be holding their breath.

Newcastle don’t just need players before the Round of 32, they also need form, and the hope is by the time the competition resumes in February, Pardew’s team have found a consistency, and a fluency, that’s been lacking lacking so far this season.

Pardew, like Bordeaux coach Francis Gillot, made nine changes for the game.

But it was to be Gillot’s team which clicked in the first 45 minutes.

Striker Nile Ranger made his first start in two and a half years on the right side of a three-man midfield in front of holding players Gael Bigirimana and Mehdi Abeid.

Goalkeeper Rob Elliot also came into the side, with Pardew having decided to rest No1 Tim Krul ahead of Monday night’s visit to Craven Cottage.

And Elliot was kept busy in the first 20 minutes. First, he tipped over an early shot from an unmarked Henri Saivet after a corner dropped to him at the far post.

Elliot stopped a long-range effort from Fahid Ben Khalfallah in the 11th minute. However, his best was a double save from former Sunderland forward David Bellion and Cheick Diabate seven minutes later.

At the other end, Newcastle, led by European talisman Shola Ameobi, foraged in and around the Bordeaux box without creating any clearcut chances.

Elliot, however, couldn’t stop Diabate’s 29th-minute header. The striker rose above James Perch to meet a left-wing cross from Ben Khalfallah, and Elliot, for the first time in the game, was helpless.

Try as they might, United couldn’t find any rhythm going forward on a patchy pitch, and Gillot’s team – who got the ball wide at every opportunity – deservedly led at the break.

Pardew, looking for his side to keep possession better, replaced Sammy Ameobi with Vurnon Anita for the second half.

There was also a tactical change to a 4-4-2 formation, and Shola Ameobi had Newcastle’s first shot on goal in the 52nd minute, but Kevin Olimpa was equal to his effort.

Abeid also shot narrowly wide after creating space for himself on a run forward.

Bordeaux, however, looked dangerous on the break, and home captain Gregory Sertic wasn’t far away with a shot from 25 yards.

The second goal came in the 73rd minute. A simple ball over the top from Andre Poko caught out Mike Williamson, who lost Diabate, who raced away to roll the ball past Elliot.

Williamson made way for Fabricio Coloccini, and Papiss Demba Cisse was sent on for the last 10 minutes.

But the game was long gone by then.

United’s fans, however, were still singing, even though what they’d witnessed on the pitch hadn’t given them much to sing about.

Twitter: @milesstarforth

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot 7; Tavernier 6, Perch 6, Williamson 5 (Coloccini, 74, 6), Ferguson 6; Abeid 6, Bigirimana 6; Ranger 6, Marveaux 5, Sammy Ameobi 5 (Anita, 46, 6); Shola Ameobi 6 (Cisse, 80). Subs not used: Krul, Simpson, Amalfitano, Campbell.

BORDEAUX: Olimpa; Chalme, Planus, Marange, Poundje; Ben Khalfallah, Poko, Sertic, Saivet; Bellion, Diabate (Sako, 88). Subs not used: Keita, Sane, N’Guemo, Maurice-Belay.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Rob Elliot. The scoreline would have been worse had it not been for him.

HIGHLIGHT: The backing Newcastle got from their 1,000-strong travelling support.

LOWLIGHT: Bordeaux’s second goal – it was all too easy.

Goals: Diabate 29, 72

Bookings: Perch 43, Tavernier 68

Referee: Menashe Masiah (Israel)

Attendance: 19,983