Newcastle have got off to a winning start during their first pre-season encounter of the season, beating Irish Premier Division side St Patrick’s Athletic 2-0 at Richmond Park.
After watching the full 90 live on NUFC TV, here’s some thoughts on each player’s performance and the marks out of 10 for each.
NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1): Darlow, – Fernandez, Lejeune, Yarney, Manquillo – Diamé, Longstaff – Ritchie, Pérez, Aarons – Joselu.
Subs: Sels, Dúbravka, Yedlin, Clark, Shelvey, Atsu, Kenedy, Roberts, Armstrong, Gayle. (ALL on at HT aside from Dubravka)
Darlow – 5 – Didn’t have a single save to make but was hesitant to come out and claim a cross on one occasion and also had a pretty hairy moment on the ball which could’ve been punished on another day.
Fernandez – 6.5 – Started the game at right-back despite being a winger by trade and did pretty well. Got stuck in, competed well and put in a positive performance. Thought he did well in the circumstances.
Yarney – 6 – Looked keen to play out for a big centre-back and was keen to try and make forward passes into midfield. Had mixed success with that but was positive to see. Looked solid enough on his first start for the club at senior level.
Lejeune – 7 – Showed his quality on the ball, stepping out from the back on a few occasions and pinging some impressive passes out into the wide areas. Looks a class act.
Manquillo – 5 – Was caught out positionally a few times – something he’s prone to – but he did make the odd good recovery interception in his defence. He’s quite confident on the ball and likes to burst forward, but his defensive instincts are lacking.
Diame – 6.5 – Was quick into the tackle and a dominating presence in midfield – with him even skipping past St Patrick midfielders on the odd occasion. No nonsense and steady.
Longstaff – 8 – Stand out player and a day he won’t forget on his senior debut. Took his goal well, getting himself into a good position in the box and controlling a well timed volley in off the post. Looked bright. Did things quickly, with a lot of first team passes, and played with his head up. Kept coming deep to receive the ball and was eager to make forward runs into good areas when we were in possession – and it paid off with the goal.
Ritchie – 6 – Was tidy and looked after the ball well but didn’t ever really have a go at his man. Got into a scuffle after a late challenge
Pérez – 5 – Drew a few fouls but didn’t really get anything going with Joselu. That being said, his decision making sometimes needs to be much better for a player deployed in such a creative role. For his sake though, I really do hope a good striker signs this summer..
Aarons – 4 – Got his head down and was eager to run at his man but didn’t have much joy at all. Often ran into trouble and decision making wasn’t great. Will need to show more if he’s going to convince Rafa that he’s good enough..
Joselu – 4 – Worked hard and pressed well, but link up play was pretty sluggish and finishing not much better. Had a few sightings of goal but failed to hit the target – even if one curled effort went narrowly wide of the top corner. A fairly typical Joselu display.
Sels – 5 (on for Darlow at HT) – First involvement saw him flap at a cross. Had nothing else to do.
Clark – 6 (on for Lejeune at HT) – Didn’t have much to do but was pretty steady and composed at the back – aside from the one moment he always headed into his own net!
Yedlin – 5 (on for Fernandez at HT) – Was never tested defensively. Made some good runs forward to give Shelvey a someone to pick out. Big chance fell to him which he blazed over the bar.
Roberts – 7 (on for Manquillo at HT) – Was our brightest player in the opening exchanges of the second half. Skipped past his man a few times and showed good pace and neat footwork. Got forward well from left-back.
Shelvey – 7 (on for Diame at HT) – Tested the St Patrick’s defence a few times with some cutting passes in behind – although some were hit in hope more than expectation. Carried the ball out of midfield well.
Atsu – 7.5 (on for Ritchie at HT) – Took players on and carried the ball well, having a few goal bound shots well blocked. Played a big part in winning the penalty, with a superb pass in behind for Gayle who was then tripped. Converted from the spot calmly. Looked really sharp.
Kenedy – 7.5 – (on for Aarons at HT) – Looked a bit rusty initially but grew into it and showed some real moments of class. Pulled off one superb piece of skill, delivery from corners was good and saw a 25-yard strike crash off the cross bar. Should have scored late on mind but fired straight at the keeper.
Armstrong – 7 – (on for Perez at HT) – Didn’t see too much of the ball initially, with him filling in for Perez in the number 10 role, but came to life towards the end of the had a few decent strikes blocked when he got the odd sighting of goal.
Gayle – 5 (on for Joselu at HT) – Ended up having a few chances but couldn’t convert. Did win a penalty late on however his hold up play wasn’t great.
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