Magpies beware

Newcastle face a tough task against Metalist Kharkiv, according to the man who last met the Ukrainians.

Last Updated: 14/02/13 at 11:07

Newcastle face a tough task against Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League on Thursday, according to the man who last came up against the Ukrainians.

But Ian Chandler is not a coach from Ukraine or even another top European side, he is the man in charge at Northern League Whitley Bay.

As part of their preparations for their Europa League clash at St James' Park, Metalist came to England early as the league in Ukraine is on a winter break.

During their stay they wanted a friendly, and in stepped Whitley Bay.

"It was about five or six weeks ago that the premise of the idea came about," Chandler told Sky Sports.

The weather was not great, consistent wind and rain and our changing rooms and ground is nowhere near to what they are used to so it was a culture shock
Ian Chandler

"The guy who runs the Hilton in Newcastle was trying to get the business in his hotel and they wanted a friendly and he suggested us, which was good of him. Unfortunately, he did not get the business but he still pushed for us to get the friendly and that is how it came about."

The match took place on Sunday at Whitley Bay's Hillheads Park, but despite being a very well appointed ground, Chandler admits that the sight of their home would have taken the Metalist players by surprise.

"They wanted to acclimatise to conditions, and our pitch is very good at this level - flat and well looked after. But the weather was not great, consistent wind and rain and our changing rooms and ground are nowhere near to what they are used to, so it was a culture shock," he continued.

"But they came and they were good enough to come and give us a game - so I can't praise them enough, but I think they did get a shock when the game kicked off."

Professional

Chandler admits that Metalist's approach can only be deemed as a thoroughly professional one.

"It is a professional manner, getting there four or five days before to acclimatise," he said - although he was happy to grab a shock draw, even taking the lead.

"Maybe it should have been a mismatch and on another day and another pitch it would have been. We played quite well, but they should have won comfortably if they had put their minds to it.

"When you play pro teams you can see the first touch is fantastic, the speed, the fitness and awareness was all there, but in the last third they were trying to play intricate football which was not coming off - but they have got some cracking players.

"They had two different teams, a different XI in each half so they were fresh as well."

Sunderland-born Chandler admits that Newcastle could face a tough challenge against Metalist, who are aiming for next season's UEFA Champions League.

"I think Newcastle might have too much for them in the home game with the big crowd too, but going over to the Ukraine it could be a different kettle of fish and probably hinges on what Newcastle do at home," he said.

"If Newcastle can get a lead, then I think they will need something to hold onto."

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