An alarming reality check on Tyneside today, as a woeful Newcastle lost 0-3 in a diabolical display against Brighton in our opening home game of the season at St James’ Park.
Two goals from Neil Maupay and a late third from Aaron Connolly did the damage, with us unable to cope with a Seagulls side who cut through us ease and were rarely tested at the other end. Callum Wilson put a free header over in our only big chance to get back into it, but with ZERO shots on target all afternoon we got what we deserved.
Steve Bruce named an unchanged eleven from last week’s dismantling of West Ham. Miguel Almiron remained on the bench despite his two assists in as many games and Ryan Fraser still wasn’t deemed sharp enough a Premier League start.
Brighton have proved to be a bogey team for us in recent times, with us failing to score in any of our previous three meetings with the Seagulls at St James’ Park and unable to beat them in our last six meetings since promotion.
It didn’t seem as if our fortunes were going to go change as we suffered a disastrous start to the game.
Two minutes in, Tariq Lamptey burst past Allan Saint-Maximin and the Frenchman needlessly brought down the marauding right wing-back just inside the penalty area. After a VAR check, Neal Maupay smashed the penalty down the middle. 1-0 Brighton.
Our misery was compounded soon after. Leandro Trossard was slipped in by Tariq Lamptey, again down the right hand side. The Belgian drilled the ball across the box and found Maupay – who took it first time and beat Darlow for the second time. The tough offside call went the way of the visitors and we were 2-0 down in seven minutes.
Shortly after the two goals, Saint-Maximin switched wings to get away from the electrifying Lamptey, who had absolutely terrorised him with his energy, pace and intensity. 30 minutes in, the Frenchman hobbled off and was replaced by Ryan Fraser.
Brighton had been brilliant, but it was a dismal showing from a Newcastle point of view, with us all at sea defensively and outnumbered, if not half asleep, in midfield. Wilson was trying his best up top and made some great runs in behind, but Carroll was never close enough to him and didn’t look mobile (or fit) enough to get into the box or catch up with play the odd time we looked to counter.
Changes were desperately needed and Steve Bruce responded, taking an ineffective Andy Carroll off for Miguel Almiron at the break. Saying that, it was all too little too late.
Almiron and Fraser did momentarily inject some much needed energy into the side and we slowly grew into the game. Our real first chance of the afternoon was created by the Paraguayan, who found Callum Wilson with a brilliant delivery – only for our new talisman to send free header over the bar. He really should have scored.
After that missed opportunity Brighton looked the side more likely to get the next goal as Aaron Connolly struck the post just before the 70 minute mark. Shortly after, Trossard also hit the woodwork with a good effort from just outside the box, not that we made it difficult for him to get a shot on Darlow’s goal with more stand-off defending.
In the 83rd minute, Brighton then the game completely to bed, not that a comeback ever felt likely before they made it three.
Maupay created space for his strike partner Aaron Connolly who had an age to compose himself, take two touches and curl an effort past Karl Darlow with ease. A truly diabolical piece of defending from us, with Fernandez failing to close down Maupay and Lascelles giving Connolly all the time in the world to curl an effort into the far corner.
In the final moments, the impressive Yves Bissouma – who well and truly got the better of Hayden and Shelvey – struck Jamal Lewis in the face with a dangerous high boot and saw red.
The final whistle was blown soon after and I for one, was glad to hear it. Boos would’ve rang around St James’ Park had there been fans inside, as that was absolutely awful in all areas. Outplayed and outmanoeuvred from top to bottom, with Potter outsmarting Bruce and the players looking second best from the outset.
We were almost unrecognisable to the side that beat West Ham last week and had been completely dominated by Brighton from the first minute until the last. Bruce’ set up put us in an awkward position from the outset, but there was a worrying lack of effort and energy on that pitch today, with the players allowing their frustrations get the better of them from Brighton’s early goal onwards.
An absolutely terrible display in so many areas. One to forget, yet a performance that also highlights how much we’ll have to improve ahead of a busy schedule and tough run of fixtures.
What a difference a week makes.