A disappointing night for Newcastle United and Steve Bruce, with us taking an early lead but failing to respond after Crystal Palace struck twice in the space of five first half minutes.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with marks out of 10:
Darlow – 6 – The late deflection and power behind Palace’s opener left him with no chance, while Cahill’s header was well placed and point blank. Aside from one low save to block a Van Aanholt shot at his near post, he had very little to do.
Manquillo – 6 – Palace got in down his side moments before they made it 1-1, not that he was getting a great deal of help from Hendrick to deal with the double threat of Van Aanholt and Eze. In general, he kept both pretty quiet and tried to push us forward, also making one superb last ditch tackle to stop Zaha bursting through on the break.
Schar – 5 – Lost Cahill for Palace’s opener, with him unable to recover after the ex-Chelsea CB got the run on him. Tried to step out of defence and push us forward, however not much came off for him on that front as he frustrated fans at home with a few ambitious efforts from range flying high and wide.
Clark – 5.5 – Didn’t do a great deal wrong defensively, although some feel Darlow may have had a chance to save Palace’s opener had he not dangled a leg out and deflected it in. Defensively he was ok, but did sometimes seem content on passing the ball around between him and Schar when we needed to move it forward quicker!
Lewis – 4 – Started the game with a few confident touches, showing how he’s benefited from that perfectly weighted assist at Everton, however his weak clearance for Palace’s first fell to Riedewald and it was his clumsy foul that led to Palace’s second. Looked better on the ball during our high tempo start and did one great bit of covering to block a cross heading to Ayew, but his part in both Palace goals and poor crossing let us down in the end.
Hayden – 5.5 – Started the game brilliantly with intense pressing and a few perfectly timed tackles or interceptions, but struggled in second half, with his passing wayward if not sideways or backwards. Also looked a little lost when Almiron was moved out wide late on, often picking the ball up off our CB’s…then not being sure how to pass it forward. A 7 in the fist 45 and a 4 in the second, so a 5.5 seems about right.
Hendrick – 4 – Didn’t do enough to help out Manquillo defensively, gave the ball away cheaply at times and was one of several who missed a decent first half chance. Also felt he didn’t do nearly enough to close down the Riedewald shot that flew in to make it 1-1, with him the first to be hooked by Bruce just after the hour mark.
Shelvey – 6 – Great low finish to give us an early lead and some eye-catching cross field passes soon after, but a late tackle and resultant yellow card had him walking a tightrope…again. He controlled the game in the opening stages, but became laboured and lacking in the ideas he showed in the first half as the match went on, resorting in a few hopeful passes and speculative efforts from range that really weren’t on.
Almiron – 8* –The best player on the park in the first half, with him always showing for the ball and driving with it on the half turn to put create space for others and unsettle the Palace back line. Showed several slick touches as he pulled the strings between midfield and attack, also playing a key part in our opener with a clever lob over a Palace man and accurate cross into Wilson before Shelvey lashed home. He then hit the bar with a brilliant free-kick that looked set to go in had it not been deflected. Struggled to take the game by the scruff of the next in the second half, however his energy levels and urgency never wavered, with him running back the length of the pitch to pinch the ball of Townsend late on! One big positive from this one is that he looks so much better playing in his favoured No 10 role – who would’ve guessed it!
Fraser – 6.5 – A promising performance in many respects – he made good runs, put in several good crosses and linked up nicely in the first half – however he fluffed a big chance when through on goal and hit straight at Guiata when presented with another decent opening. Also had one moment in the second half when he decided to loop the ball into the box when it was calling out for a low cross. Would’ve been a 7 or 8 if his final product was that bit better.
Wilson – 7 – Hard to fault him in this one. Didn’t manage to get on the score sheet this time, but held up the ball well to bag the assist for Shelvey’s goal and could’ve had another moments later after bursting past his man and playing a brilliant ball in behind for Fraser. A lack of service and fluidity in midfield left him feeding off scraps in the second half, but he didn’t stop battling, winning free kicks and fighting for every ball up against two big CB’s.
Saint-Maximin – 6 – Replaced Hendrick with just under half an hour remaining. The victim of our disjointed approach to the second half, with us struggling to get him into good areas and expecting him to do it on his own
Gayle – N/A – Played up top alongside Wilson but barely got a kick. A rare appearance but one where he wasn’t able to make any impact.
Carroll – N/A – Brought on by Bruce in an act of desperation. One header saved comfortably by Guiata his only contribution of any note.