Another win and another clean sheet, but we rode our luck in this one, with Ryan Fraser’s goal and a brilliant Miguel Almiron assist helping us to a 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao Cup.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my mark out of 10:
Gillespie – 8 – As debuts go, that was very good from the local lad! Showed good distribution in the first half, claimed several crosses well, looked a safe pair of hands and denied Blackburn with a few smart saves to preserve his clean sheet and help us through.
Yedlin – 4 – A poor performance and one that makes it easy to see why Bruce deems him surplus to requirements. Wayward passing throughout and could’ve cost us the win with an awful header back to Gillespie which Harry Chapman intercepted and almost scored from. Maybe his head’s elsewhere, but that didn’t exactly put him in the shop window…
Krafth – 6 – Not excellent by any means, but was pretty solid in an unfamiliar centre-back role and was quick into a few tackles. Lost possession on multiple occasions with a few sloppy punts up the pitch but did OK and helped us to a clean sheet.
Clark* – 8 – One of few strong performances, with him barely putting a foot wrong on his first start after SEVEN months out. Some excellent clearances and blocks as well as displaying adept positioning throughout to intervene just when we needed him to. Without him, Blackburn would’ve scored. My man of the match.
Manquillo – 5 – One of the weekend’s standout performers, the Spaniard was more of a passenger in this affair and looked a little leggy. Again, part of a defence which kept clean sheet but allowed a few too many crosses to come in down their right (he played at left-back here) which could’ve easily led to a goal.
Ritchie – 5 – Ritchie’s attitude can never be questioned and he worked tirelessly tonight. However, his deliveries into the box were shocking and he provided Joelinton with very little service. Careless with the ball at times and needs to work on his crossing now he’s losing any pace he once had. A game to forget for him.
S Longstaff – 4 – Looked like he was treading water here and seemed a shadow of the player that broke onto the scene so well 18 months ago. Gave the ball away on too many occasions and was chasing shadows off the ball and arriving too late whenever he attempted to press. Looked well off the pace, sadly.
Barlaser – 6 – It was nice to see Barlaser back in black and white and it was a decent performance by him, not that he was able to standout in a game Blackburn generally dominated. Some brave blocks in and around the box and looked comfortable in possession, pinging a few decent balls out into wide areas. Remains to be seen whether he has convinced Steve Bruce he is good enough for the Premier League, but he had little help from a sluggish Sean Longstaff, tried to get things going on the ball and put himself about off it.
Fraser – 7 – A productive debut from the diminutive Scot. Considering it was his first game since March, the new man looked lively early on and scored the winner via a brilliant run infield and smart finish. Drifted out of it in the second half before being replaced on the hour mark, but linked up nicely with Almiron in patches, showed good movement, was barking out instructions to teammates and worked hard.
Almiron – 7 – One of the bright sparks in an otherwise dull performance from a NUFC perspective. Looked alert as ever, worked tirelessly throughout and produced the moment of the match with a brilliant reverse pass to put Fraser through on goal. That’s two assists in two games for the Paraguayan. A good start to the season for him and a display that gives Bruce something to think about for Brighton after benching him at West Ham last weekend.
Joelinton – 4 – -He may have been isolated for too much of the night and starved of service, but he was so frustrating to watch here. Poor first touches, sloppy passing and looked leggy – the story of his time on Tyneside so far! Won plenty flick ons, but looks anything but a sole striker and rarely got himself in good positions the odd time we broke into the box. Had a goal ruled out for offside and hit a tame effort straight at their GK when he should’ve slipped Murphy in instead. If Steve Bruce is going to play him, it can’t be as an isolated lone striker playing with his back to goal!
Murphy – 5 – Wasn’t really able to affect the game in over half an hour the pitch, but his last ditch challenge to deny Ben Brereton a look at goal might’ve won us the game. Had a good pre-season and clearly has pace to burn, but needs to kick on if he wants to fight for his place at the club.
Saint-Maximin – 5 – Played as a lone striker after replacing Joelinton late on. Chased down lost causes well and had one nice moment to wriggle away from his man and release Jacob Murphy down the right, but was generally very quiet as we sat back and protected our lead in the closing stages.
Christian Atsu– N/A – On for the final few minutes. Never really got on the ball in any attacking areas but did track back well to block a few crosses late on.