ST MIRREN were well beaten last night in their final preparation for Saturday’s SPFL opener against Inverness at Caledonian Stadium.
Scorers: Newcastle United - Cisse (20), Debuchy (27)
However, Saints manager Danny Lennon and his players can console themselves with the knowledge that Terry Butcher’s side are unlikely to pose them as many problems as their vastly superior English Premier League opponents did.
Papiss Cisse ought to have broken the deadlock in the second minute, when Dan Gosling’s slide-rule pass left him with only David Cornell to beat. Much to the surprise of the sizeable travelling support, however, the striker completely mishit his shot from the edge of the penalty area and failed to hit the target.
Hatem Ben Arfa then squandered an even better opportunity, wanting too many touches after Gosling had found him inside the six-yard box. Both of those misses, however, proved to be aberrations.
Cisse displayed his true colours when he collected a pass from Sammy Ameobi before curling a right-foot shot behind David Cornell from 15 yards.
The goalkeeper had made a fine save to keep out Gosling’s header from point-blank range and Gary Harkins might have equalised but was left cursing a poor first touch after getting on the end of Gary Teale’s cross.
Mathieu Debuchy added a second in the 27th minute, passing the ball behind Cornell from the edge of the 18-yard box after being played in by Vurnon Anita.
The home side could have been three down before the interval when Gosling dispossessed Jim Goodwin 20 yards out only to see his resulting effort clear Cornell’s crossbar by inches.
Gosling really ought to have scored two minutes after the restart, however, but instead headed over from point-blank range after being picked out by substitute David Santon.
Ben Arfa came equally close with a swerving left-foot shot which shaved the outside of Cornell’s right-hand post.
Ameobi then saw a flashing drive deflected just wide as the perpetually busy Gosling, lunging in, only just failed to connect.
Newcastle were utterly dominant in spite of clearly playing well within themselves and even the customary rash of substitutions failed to disrupt their rhythm.
Saints could not be faulted for their effort and they deserve credit for refusing to abandon their passing game but their rivals were, as might have been expected, superior in every department.
Indeed, the loudest cheer from the home support came when Newcastle manager Alan Pardew sent on Conor Newton, the former Saints midfielder who scored the decisive goal in the hosts’ Scottish Communities League Cup final triumph over Hearts.
Substitute Sean Kelly could have given the scoreline a libellous look immediately after replacing Stephen Thompson but he blazed Teale’s cross over from a yard out.