A frustrating day for Newcastle United, with us failing to find a way past a League One Oxford side at St James’ Park.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with our marks out of 10:
Darlow – 7 – A spectator in the first half, but was the difference between a replay and us being dumped out in the end! Came out to block Browne’s goal-bound shot when one-on-one, saved a powerful effort from Holland late on and gathered a few hanging crosses well. Some moments of indecision and almost had a mix up with Lascelles late on, but it sums up our display today that he gets the best mark against a League One side.
Schar – 6 – A few timely interceptions and some of his switches of play were easy on the eye, but did switch off late on, allowing an Oxford player a clear run from a stoppage time corner. Moved into midfield late on as we pushed for a winner.
Lascelles – 6 – Was booked for a rash challenge early on that some Oxford players believed deserved a red. Won plenty in the air, played a few nice cross-field passes (his distribution looks a little bit better), but should’ve done better with a few big chances in the box – heading over twice.
Clark – 6 – What he had to do defensively he dealt with pretty well. The odd loose touch, with no NUFC player really ‘at it’ today, but he was solid enough.
Yedlin – 5 – Gave us an outlet on the overlap and goy into some good positions, but his crossing often let him down – if his touch didn’t. Struggled to deal with Baptiste’s skill and direct style early on, but seemed to settle down defensively after that. Lazaro is now signed, so he’ll have to up his game to stay in the side.
Bentaleb – 6 – A mixed debut; which is to be expected given his last senior start came in April last year. The odd loose pass and moment when he was caught in possession, but he made a few good recoveries, looked to release the ball quickly and showed glimpses of quality.
S Longstaff – 4 – Looked a little cumbersome and gave away the ball cheaply on more than one occasion, gifting Oxford a few decent chances on the counter. He had a few well hit strikes blocked from range, but he seems to be struggling to do the simple things well and is losing the ball too often. This was a chance to boost his visibly low confidence levels, but he struggled to grasp it.
Ritchie – 6 – Plenty effort, but his lack of pace and ability to beat a man stood out. We’ve been used to seeing Willems go past players, show impressive dribbling and be explosive when going forward, but Ritchie was often forced to go back when he got it. He tried to drive the team on and put in a team decent deliveries, but showed his limitations.
Almiron – 6 – Neat and tidy and a few brilliant bursting runs to get in behind the Oxford midfield – only to be hacked down by cynical fouls. That said, he was quiet in the first half and didn’t take the game by the scruff of the neck against weakened opposition. Had one half chance in the second half but fired over.
Saint-Maximin – 6 – Ran rings around Oxford at times, with his change of direction, skill and turn of pace being leaving them for dead, but he was VERY hit and miss today. One great run which ended with a stinging shot, yet that was mixed in with some poor decision making and bad touches. Didn’t look 100% fit and was taken off midway through the second half.
Joelinton – 6 – A mixed display for the Brazilian. Had two decent finishes chalked off, but was clearly offside for both. He put in a shift, his touch was better and he enjoyed a few promising driving runs when picking up the ball from deep, but missed one of our biggest chances later on, smashing way over after a decent knock down from Ciaran Clark.
M Longstaff – 6 – Gave us more energy in the middle and almost made an immediate impact, with him turning nicely and firing a decent shot just wide of the post.
Atsu – 5 – Didn’t really do enough. Burst past his man and into the box once, but his final ball was poor, with his cross going straight at Eastwood.
Hayden – N/A – Came on for the final few minutes and slotted in at CB as Schar pushed into midfield.