A dominant first-half display and impressive goal from Miguel Almiron, but missed chances and a second half collapse allowed Rochdale to force a FA Cup replay at St James’ Park we could’ve done without.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with our marks out of 10:
Dubravka – 7 – Didn’t have a save to make in the first 45 but came to our rescue in the second half. Was slightly fortunate that he wasn’t punished for one spilled shot, but made THREE smart saves to make sure Rochdale only got a replay.
Yedlin – 7 – Was one of our best attacking outlets throughout. Had the beating of his man every time down our right and could’ve bagged a few first half assists if our forwards could finish. His weight of crossing let him down at times, but his pace and energy
Hayden – 5 – Slotted in steadily on the left-side of a back 3 in the first half, but struggled late on when Rochdale piled on the pressure. Allowed Matheson to get in behind him just moments before their late leveller.
Fernandez – 5 – The Argentinian breezed through the first half and made a few solid blocks and clearances, but was stuck in the mud and guilty of ball watching as Wilbraham ghosted in to equalise.
Krafth – 6 – Looked like a useful ball player in the first half, pinging a few lovely cross-field balls out to Atsu. Did a solid job for the most part, but his lack of size (for a centre-back) was telling when Wilbraham came on, with the Swede struggling to deal with his physicality.
Atsu – 7 – A tale of two halves for him, but he was outstanding in the first 45. He left Magloire for dead on countless occasions, beating the Rochdale right-back so regularly that he was taken off by the home side just 28 minutes in. Was one of few Newcastle players running at the League One side, created several chances and set up Almiron’s goal, but had less joy against Matheson in the second half and almost cost us the game late on after losing the ball in a bad area.
S. Longstaff – 5 – Put in a tidy first half display and moved the ball quickly, looking more like the player we saw break onto the scene early last year, but he faded pretty badly in the second half. Seemed to tire pretty early and was guilty
M. Longstaff – 6 – A brilliant all-action first-half, but he faded out of the game badly in the second 45. He was pulling the strings early on, linking up with Yedlin brilliantly and showing impressive touch, awareness and stamina, but he couldn’t get into the game in the second half – and often lost the ball when he did.
Almiron – 7.5 – Took his goal brilliantly, blasting past Sanchez via a quick touch and smart finish, and put in a lively and all-action display in the no.10 role. Tracked back well and dispossessed Rochdale midfielders on several occasions, also giving us that bit of spark, pace and urgency in attack. Was forced off on the hour-mark with a reported groin injury.
Joelinton – 2 – I didn’t think things could get much worse for the Brazilian, but they did today. He missed a few big chances, failed to react when the ball fell his way in the box and offered nothing in the second half, struggling to hold the ball up and misplacing a basic pass in the build up to Rochdale’s equaliser. I don’t like to hear the “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” chants from NUFC fans in the away end, but he needs to offer a LOT more. Missed chances and poor touches are difficult to accept when you’ve cost £40m, but he MUST liven up in and around the box, show much more desire to get on the end of things and stop throwing his hands up in the air when things don’t go his way.
Muto – 5 – He struggled to make a real impact and should’ve scored, with his close-range shot straight at Sanchez, but we lost something when he came off. His energy, movement and threat in behind helped keep them on the back foot; something we never recreated when Ki came on in his place. That said, it was a similar story for Muto. Plenty effort and decent movement, but a lack of quality where it matters most.
Ki – 4 – Replaced the injured Muto just 5 minutes into the second half. He was too one-paced, slow to track back and everything Almiron wasn’t.
Ritchie – 5 – The usual energy and tenacity and a few dangerous whipped balls into the box; not that he was able to lift a flat NUFC in the second half. Great to see him back nonetheless.