NEWCASTLE United’s relegation worries deepened this afternoon after a home defeat to fellow strugglers Reading, writes Miles Starforth.
Two second-half goals from visiting substitute Adam Le Fondre condemned Alan Pardew’s side to a 2-1 Premier League loss at St James’s Park.
Newcastle had led through Yohan Cabaye’s stunning first-half free-kick.
But United’s bright performance before the break wasn’t replicated after the interval, and fans chanted “you don’t know what you’re doing” at Pardew after one second-half substitution.
And his team left the field to boos after what was Reading’s first-ever win at St James’s Park.
Newcastle took time to find their stride, and Cabaye had the first real chance of the game, the midfielder shooting directly at goalkeeper Adam Federici in the 15th minute after Mathieu Debuchy lifted a ball over the top for him.
Cabaye then crossed for striker Papiss Demba Cisse, whose header was saved by Federici.
As sleet came down, Pavel Pogrebnyak put a chance wide at the other end.
But United soon took control of the game, which was being played in appalling conditions at a wintry St James’s Park.
Cisse forced another stop from Federici from a headed Sylvain Marveaux ball forward as Newcastle steadily built some momentum.
With half an hour played, Vurnon lofted a ball to over-lapping right-back Debuchy, whose cross was met by Cisse. Federici was again equal to his effort, but he could do little to stop Cabaye’s free-kick.
Cabaye stepped up after Marveaux’s run towards the Reading box was crudely stopped, and he floated a set-piece into the net – with Federici rooted to the spot.
United’s performance unravelled steadily after the break, and Brian McDermott’s introduction of Adam Le Fondre changed the course of the game.
After Marveaux had made way for defensive midfielder James Perch to a round of boos from Newcastle suppporters, Le Fondre came on in the 70th minute for former United midfielder Danny Guthrie, who was applauded off the pitch.
Within a minute, Reading were level. Jimmy Kebe’s low right-wing cross eluded Mike Williamson, and the ball bounced off a prone Le Fondre and into the net.
It got worse for Pardew - whose decision to take off Cabaye was also booed - and his team in the 77th minute.
A cross into the box was only half cleared, and the ball was touch to an unmarked Le Fondre, who squeezed it between goalkeeper Tim Krul and his left-hand post.
United didn’t look like scoring all half - and Pardew’s side left the field to boos from all four sides of St James’s Park.
NEWCASTLE: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Anita (Obertan, 80), Cabaye (Bigirimana, 74); Shola Ameobi, Marveaux (Perch, 65), Gutierrez; Cisse. Subs not used: Elliot, S Taylor, Sammy Ameobi, Ranger.
READING: Federici; Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte; Leigertwood, Guthrie (Le Fondre 70); Kebe, McCleary (Akpan, 65), McAnuff; Pogrebnyak. Subs not used: Taylor, Gunter, Karacan, Hunt, Morrison.
Goals: Cabaye 35, Le Fondre 71, 77
Bookings: Williamson 56, Guthrie 65, Kelly 67, Debuchy 79, Kebe 90
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
Attendance: 49,411 (1,068 Reading)