A tough one to take on a few fronts, with Newcastle being held 1-1 by Wolves at St James’ Park tonight.
Jamaal Lascelles gave us the lead seven minutes into the second half , however Martin Dubravka couldn’t get a strong enough hand to keep out a Ruben Neves header he should have done better with.
Newcastle started absolutely fantastically and were in control of the match until Saint-Maximin’s forced substitution, with the big worry coming out of this one being the fact both he and Miguel Almiron hobbled off.
The only consolation from this result is that we can’t drop into the relegation spot if Fulham beat Crystal Palace but this is a hard result to take as Newcastle pick up their 5th draw of the season.
We were handed a tremendous opportunity to swap places with Brighton in the firing line after the south-coast side lost 1-0 away to West Brom. Though the result meant that another relegation zone team had gained points on us, it kept Brighton just one point above us and presented us with the opportunity to leapfrog them.
Despite their unusually low position in the league, Wolves were on an unbeaten run of four matches in the lead up to this match meaning that the difficulty of the match wasn’t as simple as a lower half clash.
Team news brought only one change with Martin Dubravka reclaiming his number one spot from Karl Darlow. Hope from the fanbase was that Dubravka would be able to marshal his defence more and hopefully shore up some of the wobbly performances.
Joelinton recovered from his back injury that forced him off in the match against Manchester United and Jonjo Shelvey was readying himself for a match full of running.
As for Wolves, they stuck with the same team that beat Leeds 1-0 in their previous match.
The game started in a lively fashion and Miguel Almiron had a fantastic opportunity to score from a tight angle in the 11th minute – only to see his side footed effort clip the post!
A big chance missed, but we’d started with the required energy to dominate the game with a massive 74% possession at one point.
Both Krafth and Joelinton unleased powerful shots at the goalkeeper but unfortunately hitting him straight on.
Saint-Maximin had the ball in the net after a fantastic combination with Willock but was unfortunately offside. Perhaps Willock should have scored before Saint-Maximin had his opportunity.
Wolves grew into the game before the break, with Traore beating Krafth with ease and drawing both Hayden and Clark into cynical fouls that saw both got into the book. Neto also fired wide from a Traore cut-back, proving that the visitors looked capable of causing us real trouble if either of their wide men were given freedom to run at our back line.
The first half was generally a good one but the lack of a goal after so much domination was worrying. Almiron and Saint-Maximin definitely seemed up for the match but the lack of Callum Wilson’s goalmouth potency was really clear.
The question raised after the half-time whistle was whether we could keep up the same intensity and convert our attacking intent?
The second half started with Ryan Fraser replacing Miguel Almiron after our star Paraguayan took a knock. Hopefully this was a precautionary switch.
LASCELLES!!! Fantastic work from Saint-Maximin and then a great cross from Ryan Fraser for our captain to guide the ball into the corner of the net with a fantastic header!
This was exactly what was needed after a good first half without a goal and this was the sort of forward momentum Newcastle should be attempting in every half of every match.
Saint-Maximin went down with what looked like a groin injury with 30 minutes left. Jacob Murphy replaced him and, like with Almiron, fans were left hoping that this was precaution more than a big injury. A big blow for the match as Saint-Maximin was one of the most dangerous players on the pitch.
Emil Krafth also started to struggle with a knock and was replaced by Matt Ritchie on the 70th minute. With Krafth injured, Newcastle now have no fit natural right-backs.
There seems to be a shift in player positions when substitutions could have simply been like for like. I’m not sure that this is a positive sign and we conceded soon after.
After Neto crossed in from the right, a Ruben Neves header was tipped into the side netting by Dubravka at the end of a Wolves counter-attack. A bad goal to concede and bitter blow.
Somehow, we don’t score as Joelinton strikes from inside the box after fantastic work by Jacob Murphy, but it hits Saiss and goes over the bar. That should have been 2-1 and I’m not quite sure how we didn’t score. Extremely unlucky, but another ‘missed’ opportunity.
A super save then arrived from Dubravka in extra time, with him somehow tipping a point-blank header onto the bar. He should’ve saved their goal, but he made up for it with that one!
Full time and Newcastle are forced to feel lucky with the point despite being the better team for a majority of the match. This is a gut punch of a result.
I predicted a draw before the match but with the way we played and the injuries picked up, this result feels like a loss.