Butt signs off in style by lifting Championship trophy
NICKY Butt signed off his Newcastle career in style by lifting the Championship trophy at a sold-out St James' Park. The former England international used his programme notes to reveal his intention to leave the Magpies when his current contract expires at the end of the season. And his last job as a Newcastle player on Tyneside was to raise the Championship trophy above his head and spark jubilant scenes of celebration amongst the biggest crowd ever to watch a game outside the English top-flight. More than 52,000 supporters packed into St James' to watch Chris Hughton's side become the first Newcastle team to go through an entire league season unbeaten at home for 103 years. Jon Walters might have ruined the party somewhat with a stoppage-time equaliser, but goals from Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi ensured the Magpies signed off on an upbeat note. Ironically, Newcastle's performance was one of their poorest of the season and there were large periods where the champions were second best to Roy Keane's mid-table side. Ipswich would have been ahead as early as the third minute had Steve Harper not produced a fine save to thwart Walters, and the visitors spent most of the opening 20 minutes camped in the Newcastle half. The hosts were strangely lethargic early on, but when they finally carved out a chance in the 27th minute, Carroll's 19th goal of the season gave them the lead. Wayne Routledge crossed from the left, and Carroll barged his way past two defenders before planting a powerful header past goalkeeper Brian Murphy. It did not take long for Ipswich to level though, with teenager Connor Wickham embellishing his growing reputation even further. Jose Enrique failed to cut out Murphy's long clearance, and Wickham shuffled past his marker before drilling a low finish into the bottom left-hand corner. Ipswich should have claimed the lead two minutes after the break, but despite being completely unmarked from Grant Leadbitter's corner, Gareth McAuley headed over the crossbar from six yards. Peter Lovenkrands and Carroll both went close shortly after as Newcastle pressed for a winner, but Ipswich defended resolutely to deny them. Butt and Joey Barton came off the bench to add some fresh legs to the Magpies midfield with 14 minutes left, and the former made a decisive impact by winning a spot-kick. The ball broke kindly in the penalty area, and former Sunderland midfielder Leadbitter clearly tackled Butt rather than the ball. Ameobi took responsibility for dispatching the spot-kick, and drilled a powerful finish into the bottom left-hand corner of the net. But there was a sting in the tail in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Walters converted Jack Colback's left-wing cross to earn Ipswich a point. NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Harper; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Enrique; Routledge, Nolan (Butt 76), Guthrie (Barton 77), Gutierrez; Lovenkrands (Ameobi 66), Carroll. Subs (not used): Krul (gk), R Taylor, Smith, Best. IPSWICH (4-1-4-1): B Murphy; D Wright (Clark 86), McAuley, Smith, Peters; Norris; D Murphy (Rosenior 71), Leadbitter (Garvan 86), Colback, Walters; Wickham. Subs (not used): R Wright (gk), Martin, Quinn, Eastman.
Related Newcastle United News