LAST NIGHT'S MATCH REPORTS
Until last night it is fair to say the overwhelming majority of the population, possibly Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho included, had not heard of David Edgar. They have now. Edgar, not even in the 29 players listed on the back of the Newcastle United programme, has written his name into an increasingly beguiling title race.
It now moves on to Villa Park this evening, where Chelsea will begin seven points behind Manchester United. By 10pm it could be four and Mourinho might just express his gratitude to Edgar. He was only playing due to an injury crisis at St James' Park that is threatening to become a plague.
Edgar had been drafted in at Bolton on Boxing Day and played right-back. That was his debut. Last night, in his first home game, he was at left-back. He is a centre-half by vocation.
Newcastle's captain Scott Parker set the tone in midfield but ahead of him Obafemi Martins worked tirelessly, as did Antoine Sibierski. Behind the midfield in which 20 year-old Steven Taylor was the most experienced defender - Nolberto Solano being a midfield fill-in at right back - fought, headed, showed composure, rode their luck and thanked Shay Given.
Ferguson drafted in seven new starters from Saturday. Giggs and Saha were among them and their ninth-minute combination looked ominous. Giggs shot wide but Given then made a fine block from Saha, who immediately had a header cleared off the line by Parker.
Milner had been prepared to run at Gary Neville, though there had been little hint that he would jink inside to such effect in the 33rd minute. But Milner did that, found a yard and struck a perfect rising shot beyond the helpless Van der Sar from 20 yards.
The leaders may have been affronted rather than stunned and Given had to deny Wayne Rooney before Scholes' first in the 40th minute. It was a lovely move featuring Scholes, Giggs, Darren Fletcher and Scholes again.
That was his fifth goal in his last five appearances at St James' and his sixth was not far away as he drove in a low effort, saw it clip Taylor and deflect past Given.
In between Scholes' goals Sibierski might have made it 2-1 to Newcastle and Park hit the outside of a post. Though the second half saw fewer chances - Ronaldo's header was nodded away by Solano and Park failed from seven yards - in terms of noise Edgar's variation raised the roof, and the stakes.
Strong winds obliged the authorities on Tyneside to cancel their planned public festivities for New Year's Eve but, as it transpired, the fireworks were merely postponed.
After a captivating fixture, Manchester United took their leave of the North East with a stormy disposition, denied, frustrated and ultimately matched by a Newcastle United team running on empty.
While an efficacious draw extended United's lead over Chelsea to seven points, their advantage will be whittled down to four should the champions emerge victorious from tonight's game away to Aston Villa.
For Newcastle and Glenn Roeder — who have specialised in grasping pride but no points on occasions such as this — it was a delicious reward.
It was Edgar who fashioned a splendid equaliser 16 minutes from time, astounding opponents who had been idling in a low gear. Edgar has pedigree, of sorts.
Eddie, his father, had played one game in goal for Newcastle in 1976 and was a team-mate of Pelé's with the New York Cosmos, but celebrity has now been passed down to his offspring.
The 13 senior players Newcastle were lacking included every recognised full back and left Roeder with Steven Taylor as his only senior centre half, where he played alongside Paul Huntington, 19.
Durability was requested of United in the aftermath of Milner's fine, long-range shot and first goal of the season, a task complicated by the early withdrawal of Louis Saha with a groin complaint.
Newcastle's advantage endured for all of seven minutes. Scholes initiated the mayhem, passing short to Darren Fletcher and regaining the ball from Ryan Giggs before curling it beyond Shay Given, the Newcastle goalkeeper, with an air of inevitability.
Ferguson's team may not have scaled the peaks of recent weeks, but their frailty prompted a surfeit of incident. Antoine Sibierski nudged between his markers to meet an inviting cross from Solano and did so with power, but directed his header towards Edwin van der Sar's flailing boots.
Yet United had as much cause to rue their inaccuracy. Giggs stepped inside Solano but dragged a free shot across and wide of goal, while Given was also to dash smartly from his line and dive bravely as the Wales forward bore down on him. In the final moments of the first half, Park Ji Sung, Saha's replacement, struck the base of the right post.
United's powers of patience were not strained. The second period was 22 seconds old when a loud collective groan was emitted by Newcastle's biggest crowd of a turbulent campaign. Once more, Scholes was their tormentor, accepting a pass from Ronaldo and shooting from distance, between Taylor's legs.
The first of January ushered in the first of the delicate away assignments that will determine Manchester United's fate in May and ended with Sir Alex Ferguson suffering a deflating climax to a festive season that had enriched his 65th birthday celebrations.
Consumed by the thought of a nine-point gap over a divided Chelsea at the top of the Premiership, his ambitions were limited to a meagre draw against a depleted Newcastle United instead. Rarely can a seven-point lead on New Year's Day have felt so underwhelming.
If United, the Manchester variety that is, are to land a first League title in four seasons, then it is success at such problematic destinations as St James' Park, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City that will shape their triumph more than any injury crisis or internal argument at Stamford Bridge.
In that respect the first of those eight staging posts suggested a fraught scramble to the finishing line, the two-horse race now slowed by two-all draws as Newcastle defied a 12-man injury list and their home debutant David Edgar denied United the opportunity to tighten their hold on the top.
The hosts were in such poor health that his opposite number had been forced to abandon plans to field Nicky Butt as an emergency defender against his old club when the midfielder reported to St James' with a swollen left ankle.
Though Ronaldo and Park added to Ferguson's frustration with late misses, United had sat back and invited Edgar's equaliser by the time it arrived. Chelsea, for all their current turmoil, have been offered a reprieve.
David Edgar's father played alongside Pele for New York Cosmos but to the Geordie nation, Edgar Jnr yesterday achieved an even more stellar footballing achievement. Never mind the Cosmos, Edgar's 72nd-minute equaliser against Manchester United was out of this world.
St James' Park stood in raucous salute of the callow Academy graduate as his spectacular 30-yarder raced past Edwin van der Sar to secure a deserved point for Newcastle. Standing most proudly in the jubilant throng was Eddie Edgar, who appeared once in goal for the Toon, and who had flown in from Canada on the off-chance of his son making his home debut.
The events unfolding at St James' were particularly remarkable because of the injury ravages endured by Newcastle.
Such were Newcastle's diminishing options that it was difficult to see where Roeder's inexperienced back line began and the ball boys ended. Two teenagers started, Paul Huntington and Edgar, as well as a 20-year-old in Steven Taylor.
Maybe it was the urging of the Newcastle faithful that stirred this rising star in black-and-white stripes. Or the presence of the guest of honour, Philippe Albert, who famously chipped Peter Schmeichel in a thrashing of United 10 years ago, a game immortalised in a video titled Haway 5-0.
Both goalkeepers excelled. Shay Given somehow denied Louis Saha, who then saw a goalbound header cleared by Parker before limping off with a groin injury. The action in this enthralling encounter was non-stop, Newcastle appealing loudly for a handball against Nemanja Vidic as the giant Serb cleared a Milner drive.
United contain such technical class and character that a sharp response was expected. Wayne Rooney, breaking off from his war of attrition with Parker, tested Given. United came calling again six minutes before the break.
Scholes was the playwright and the leading man, scripting a flowing move, involving Darren Fletcher and Giggs, before producing a magnificent pay-off, a little shimmy past Huntington and a raking drive past Given.
Few midfielders time their arrival into the danger zone as expertly as Scholes. Scarcely 20 seconds of the second period had unfolded when Scholes was parading his shooting skills again, this time exploiting a pass from Ronaldo before defeating Given.
That should have been it. Game over. Another example of United's superiority, another victory. Newcastle, marvellously, refused to go quietly.
Parker kept leading the resistance movement. Milner kept running upfield, and from one of the winger's little breaks, the ball was worked back to Edgar and the rest was hysteria.
Chelsea will have loved this. All eyes now turn to Villa Park.
Newcastle (4-4-2): Given; Solano, Taylor, Huntington, Edgar; Dyer, Parker, Emre (Pattison, 87), Milner; Martins, Sibierski.
Subs: Srnicek (g), Luque, O'Brien, Carroll.
Goals: Milner 33, Edgar 74
Manchester United (4-4-2): Van der Sar; Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Ronaldo, Fletcher (Carrick, 76), Scholes, Giggs; Rooney, Saha (Park, 35).
Subs: Heaton (g), Heinze, O'Shea.
Booked: Scholes, Neville, Ferdinand.
Goals: Scholes 40, 45
Referee: R Styles (Hampshire)
ORDER RED ISSUE MAGAZINE HERE. A 10 ISSUE SUBSCRIPTION TO THE BEST FANZINE IN THE COUNTRY FOR LESS THAN £25 FOR UK RESIDENTS