With 60 seconds of injury time to play, I was bracing myself for another huge win as Newcastle protected the ball in the corner of the Gallowgate end. What happened in the minute that remained, however, left myself and the entire Geordie faithful utterly deflated.
Newcastle allowed Leeds one last attack and in the 95th minute, an unmarked Chris Wood poked home his 25th goal of the season, seeing the Magpies lose their lead in devastating fashion.
To leave with a share of the spoils was hard to take. We played Leeds off the park. The boys were quicker to every ball, had 22 shots to Leeds’ 4 and had an incredible 19 corners to their 0. It was an outstanding effort from the lads in what I believe to be our best display at St. James’ this year.
It must be said that whilst the late equaliser was a bitter blow, leaving an overriding feeling of disappointment amongst fans, the teams performance and efforts throughout must not go unnoticed.
All 11 players put in a real shift, deserving praise for their efforts, but it was Mitrovic, Mbemba, Hayden and Anita who were the pick of a very good bunch last night:
Karl Darlow – 6 – Made a smart save as Roofe tried to head home Leeds’ rebounded effort that struck the bar. Didn’t have a save to make following that and could do little about Wood’s late equaliser.
Vurnon Anita – 8 – Defended superbly in an assured display from the Dutchman. Doesn’t offer the attacking threat Yedlin provides, but was alive and alert to any danger.
Jamaal Lascelles – 6 – Bundled home to give Newcastle the breakthrough but was caught ball watching for the equaliser. An improvement on Saturday but a costly lapse.
Chancel Mbemba – 8 – Read the play superbly and confidently carried the ball out from the back on several occasions. Vastly improved from Saturday.
Paul Dummett – 7 – Kept Leeds’ Kemar Roofe quiet. Offered little going forward but did his job, as ever, defensively.
Isaac Hayden – 8 – Made a huge difference on his return to the NUFC midfield. Slick in possession, quick into the tackle and strong in the air. Helped the side in all areas of the field.
Jonjo Shelvey – 7 – Looked to make things happen and dictated the play well. Looked far more comfortable alongside Hayden in a duo that have the makings of a very capable midfield partnership.
Matt Ritchie – 7.5 – Worked his socks off as usual and offered a creative spark going forward. Non stop work in both halves of the pitch.
Yoan Gouffran – 7 – Put himself about and worked for every ball. Was unlucky not to score in the first half as his low shot struck the inside of the post.
Ayoze Perez – 6 – Tireless running and tried to make things happen. Often a little too cheap in possession and lacking final product.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – 8.5 – Outstanding effort. He won his battles against two giant Leeds centre halves, linked the play superbly and set up the opener for Lascelles with a towering header across goal. His all round game was much improved and he showed the sort of sharpness that he’s often lacked this season. Great to see!
On another day we score two or three and make easy work of it, but that’s just not Newcastle United’s style this season it appears.
After Brighton and Huddersfield won yesterday, the draw sees our title hopes suffer a real blow, with our push for a automatic promotion also halted.
It’s a tough one to take and another setback, but in 48 hours time, a trip to mid-table Ipswich Town offers us the ideal opportunity to bounce back immediately.
Time for calm heads and a positive outlook. Play with that sort of intensity, desire and intent in our four remaining games and we will be playing Premier League football once again come August.