Well, that was 90 minutes of our life we’re never getting back and a pretty awful game of football!
Pre-season friendlies may normally be played at this time of the year and it really did feel like one, being played at a snails pace with a total lack of intensity in all areas.
The result means the highest we’ll be able to finish this season is 13th (our current position) and the lowest 14th, with us five points behind Southampton (12th), two points clear of Palace (14th) and six clear of Brighton (15th) ahead of the final weekend of the 2019/20 campaign.
Bruce made two changes. He stuck with the three / five at the back formation that caused Spurs a few problems in light of our lack of options in central defence, with Rose and Manquillo coming in for Schar and Yedlin.
It was a shame to see him leave U-23 talent Kell Watts on the bench. Surely this was the ideal chance to give one of our youngsters a chance? Especially when he ended up playing Rose and Krafth as centre-backs either side of Fernandez!
After having 77% possession in our 0-0 draw at St James’ Park earlier in the season, Brighton continued to dominate the ball in this one.
The main moments came from Brighton. Maupay hit the post in the opening minutes before being flagged offside, Trossard forced Dubravka into a decent save, Gross fizzed a shot wide and some clumsy play from Ritchie almost gifted them a penalty moments before.
Aside from a Shelvey corner that was just headed over by Gayle, there wasn’t anything to report on from a Newcastle perspective in the first 45.
In fact, the most entertaining moment from anyone in bright orange came from Matt Ritchie, who gave anyone watching the game without crowd a good laugh with his brilliant rant at the linesman.
Half time, into the break at 0-0 and only 45 minutes more to endure (it was that bad!).
The second period almost started with a bang as Gayle got on the end of another ball into the box from Shelvey, however the ball hit his shoulder. Thankfully for his sake, his blushes were spared
Almiron then almost directed a clever flick past Ryan, but it was a comfortable save in the end – and in truth the only time the Australian stopper had been called into action over the first hour of the game:
It was yet another game that was crying out for changes and yet another game where Bruce waited an age to do so, but with 17 minutes to play he finally budged and brought on Carroll and Joelinton for Gayle and Saint-Maximin; who was well below his best here and very quiet based on the brilliant standard he’d set of late.
Not for the first time, Dubravka then saved our bacon with an acrobat save to tip over Webster’s brilliantly struck shot from range. He didn’t have a great deal to do tonight, but the Slovakian was probably our best player here alongside the rock solid Fernandez – which probably says a lot about the standard of this game when Brighton didn’t threaten all that often!
Our big chance to win in that arrived. Ritchie swung in a corner from the right-hand side, Ryan got nowhere near it and Andy Carroll arrived at the bakc post…only to head WIDE of the post! A big chance missed to bag his first goal since returning and our clearest opening to break the deadlock in a game that was only ever going to be settled by a single goal.
When five minutes were added on by the fourth official we’d normally think “come on lads, we’ve got time to win it!”, but I think such a lengthy spell of extra time was actually met with groans by most who were watching on half asleep from their sofas! We were never expecting this one to be a classic, with both teams having next to nothing to play for and in bad form, but it really was that bad!
Another 0-0 against Brighton and another step closer to the season ending. A clean sheet, a result that stops the rot an extent after three straight defeats, strong displays from Dubravka and Fernandez, but that’s where the positives end really.
Neither side looked like they wanted to win it and it was awful from start to finish, but I’m also not sure what to expect given it was our 9th game in four weeks and a match that had next to nothing riding on it for either side.
Next up, Liverpool at St James’ Park on Sunday!