A deflating draw at St James’ Park this afternoon as an abject NUFC stuttered to a 0-0 draw with Brighton this afternoon.
Here’s our thoughts and marks out of 10 following today’s game:
NUFC XI – (4-4-2) – Elliot – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Ritchie, Merino, Hayden, Atsu– Gayle, Joselu.
Darlow – 5 – Was slow to distribute, but fan criticism was uncalled for in my view. Brighton made it difficult from corners & surrounded him but he was a safe pair of hands today, doing well to hold a difficult low free kick from Gross.
Yedlin – 3 – Never got close enough to March down Brighton’s left. Like we’ve seen in the past this season, he was being caught out with a few too many cross-field passes. He rarely got punished, but a better winger could have done damage today as he slipped back into some of his unwanted habits.
Clark – 5 – Didn’t have a great deal to do. Backed off a little too much when Knockaert got in behind our midfield & doesn’t look quite as calm on the ball as he did last season (however a lack of options ahead of him isn’t helping).
Dummett – 5 – Looked a little rusty in possession, but rarely had many options in his defence. Mistimed the odd interception/tackle in the first half against the marauding Knockaert but kept him quiet in the second. Never really managed to get forward to support Atsu , although he’s never been known for his attacking play.
Ritchie – 4 – Another very quiet home performance from the man who so often made us tick at SJP last season. Had a good set piece opportunity to put a cross into the box at one stage but hit the first man – that perhaps summed up his afternoon. Disappointing after he was tested on Wednesday.
Merino – 5 – Tried to get the ball down and get us moving forward but he too was sloppy & struggled to get anything going. He so often had nothing on mind, but he looked another who was out on his feet despite a rest.
Hayden – 2 – Really unsure what he offered us once again. The game passed him by. He looked leggy and slow to close down (often getting caught in no mans land between defence and attack) and never really got a hold of the ball in midfield to make things happen. He has been known for his physicality, combative approach and the odd burst from midfield, but none of that was really brought to the fore today. Not nearly good enough from him.
Atsu – 4 – He was the stand-out player in our win over West Ham and I had high hopes for him today after a rest in midweek but he was another who really wasn’t at the races. He was up against 37-year old Brighton right-back ‘Bruno’ but barely got at him. He’s the sort of player we need to turn up in the games that could be decided by one goal but, aside from him picking Gayle out for a header in the second half, he was so quiet.
Gayle – 3 – Very poor today. Struggled to get the ball under control today never mind pose any sort of attacking threat in the final third. Saw a decent flicked header saved by Ryan in the second half but didn’t do enough in and around Joselu today.
Joselu – 5 – Another thankless task for him up front today really. He put in a good shift in and challenged for every ball – with us so often resorting to pumping it long to him to get up the pitch. He lacks quality, but his effort levels can’t be questioned. He rarely had enough support or anyone around him to benefit from the few flicks he did win against the towering Dunk and Duffy. We might’ve created our own luck if everyone put in the sort of effort he did today.