The few Newcastle fans who snuck in may have enjoyed their day in the sun, but our performance failed to match up to the weather as York City scored late to come away with a surprise 1-0 win.
It was, however, a good work out in tough conditions against a spirited side who gave a very good account of themselves – even if the result may seem an alarming one.
Another thought to remember; we wouldn’t have got carried away had we won 7-0 today, so we shouldn’t be too concerned about a 1-0 defeat.
After all, arguably the biggest worry coming away from this is the injury to Joelinton – along with Hayden’s first-half scare – not the fact we’ve just been beaten by a National League North team.
STARTING XI: Langley, Murphy, Fernandez, Lascelles (c), Watts, Ritchie, Hayden, Hendrick, Fraser, Joelinton, Wilson.
SUBS: Thompson, Clark, Dummett (68), Lewis (45), M Longstaff (60), S Longstaff (60), Saint-Maximin (45), Muto (78), Gayle (18).
It was a scruffy start to the game in the North Yorkshire sunshine, and a concerning moment arrived just 10 minutes in as Isaac Hayden went down holding his knee.
A worrying sign given he’d not long recovered from a knee injury that ended his 2020/21 season early, however he managed to continue. Panic over, until Joelinton then pulled up.
The Brazilian had started brightly in his new no.7 shirt and did brilliantly to skip past his man and almost set up a tap-in, but that came at a cost and he appeared to have felt something in the top of his leg.
He continued for the next five minutes but was clearly uncomfortable, seeing Dwight Gayle come on in his place just 18 minutes in. A shame and yet another reminder that another striker is desperately needed – especially now we’ve released Andy Carroll!
A decent move involving Murphy, Hayden, Wilson, Gayle and Fraser then led to our first near miss of the match, with the Scot very nearly lobbing the goalkeeper from a tight angle after getting in behind.
The home side were holding their own and forced Dan Langley into the first save of the game just three minutes later, as Duckworth’s stinging effort was tipped wide by the 6ft 7′ giant.
Fresh from a drinks break, Jacob Murphy very nearly put us ahead on the half-hour mark. Fernandez started the move with a cross-field pass to pick out Ritchie, whose back-post delivery was met by Murphy – only to be parried well by the York City stopper.
Another big chance then arrived, this time at Callum Wilson’s feet after Ritchie and Fraser combined well down the left and cut the ball back to our new number 9. He sold the defender with a drop of the shoulder, but saw his goal-bound effort well blocked by an outstretched leg.
There was little else to report in what was a disjointed and one-paced opening 45, however Kell Watts enjoyed a few impressive ball carries out of the back – showing Maguire-esque confidence in possession for a player with his 6ft 4′ frame.
Joelinton also looked bright before being forced off and Jacob Murphy was a constant out ball down the right, picking up from where he left off last season.
The second half got underway and Steve Bruce had made two changes, bringing on Saint-Maximin and Jamal Lewis for Callum Wilson and Isaac Hayden.
10 minutes into the restart and there was little to report, aside from a Saint-Maximin burst that saw him hacked down on the edge of the box. Matt Ritchie stepped up but saw his free-kick hit the wall – and his follow up effort wasn’t much better.
Just before the hour mark, the Longstaff brothers were then given the call just before the hour mark, replacing Jeff Hendrick and Ryan Fraser.
Seconds after coming on, Sean Longstaff lost the ball in a bad area and York got in down the left. The ball flashed across the box and Clayton Donaldson prodded towards goal, only to see his effort blocked well by Watts’ outstretched leg.
It was a boiling hot day and our first game back from a two-month break, but there was a real lack of pace about our play, with Saint-Maximin standing out like a sore thumb after others around him tired.
On that note, it was his wing play and inviting cross that very nearly led to our opening goal, as Dyson’s diving header was just tipped over his own cross bar by the York City GK.
Just over 20 minutes remaining and Paul Dummett replaced Fernandez, a change that was followed by a big chance for Matt Ritchie just five minutes later, as the wing-back smashed Murphy’s clever cut-back straight at Whitley.
75 minutes on the clock and our biggest chance of the game arrived. Saint-Maximin broke free on the break, fed Gayle down the left and got the ball back after a smart reverse pass from the NUFC striker put ASM in on goal.
ASM thought he had just the keeper to beat, until a miraculous last ditch challenge from Josh King saw his goal-bound strike fly over the bar just as we expected the net to bulge.
Muto then replaced Gayle with little over 10 minutes to play, giving the Japanese international his first appearance in black and white shirt since returning from a loan spell in La Liga.
Just as the game looked destined to fizzle out, York took the lead. Barrow swung in a cross from the left, which was met brilliantly by Michael Duckworth – whose header looping header left young Langley rooted to the spot.
1-0 to the National League North team and a big cheer from the home fans – and rightly so!
Three minutes of added time came to nothing and York held on for the win.
A good work out. A bad performance and another reminder that we need another striker – especially if Joelinton’s injury is a bad one.