A disappointing display at Selhurst Park and a difficult watch for Newcastle United fans, but it’s a point – and one we were lucky to hold onto in the end.
After Christian Benteke’s header gave the hosts a 1-0 lead early in the second half, Callum Wilson scored a stunning overhead kick to hand us a point.
It looked like Palace would take all three in the 89th minute when Benteke slammed home another header, however VAR came to our rescue as – just like it did at Watford – as Guehi was guilty of a blatant shirt pull on Ciaran Clark.
With Watford pulling off a stunning 5-2 win at Everton, Southampton and Burnley drawing and a struggling Leeds equalising in the 92nd minute against Wolves, a point isn’t really enough for a Newcastle United side still looking for win number one of the season.
Sadly, we didn’t play like a team believing they’d win and spent most of the game camped in our own half. We did defend better and didn’t fold under the pressure, however the lack of quality on the ball combined with the negative set up was tough to watch at times.
Graeme Jones made two changes, replacing Joe Willock and Joelinton with Emil Krafth and Ryan Fraser – a move that saw us revert to a five-man defence.
Here’s what he had to say when asked about those changes:
“So, from Emil Krafth and from Ryan Fraser, they have trained really well, they have showed me that they want to be in the team, they want to be part of things. Both international footballers, both good Premier League experience. SO I’m expecting a good positive performance from them.”
As for the game itself, it was a pretty grim opening 20 minutes.
Gallagher was being given too much space, we were sitting far too deep, not putting enough pressure on the ball and should’ve went 1-0 down after Benteke struck the post from a header he really had to score from.
Aside from a scramble in the box that saw Wilson hit the side netting and one counter attack which ended in a poor final ball from Saint-Maximin, the travelling Toon Army were given nothing to shout about across the opening half an hour.
We had the ability to do damage with Wilson, Fraser and ASM in attack – even if the latter was having a shocker – but our inability to keep the ball and get good service into our front three was painful to watch over the first 45, highlighted by Palace’s 79% possession.
We had to push up – even if this low block was seeing us look better solid defensively and more compact.
Heading into half time, it felt like we’d be holding on for a point at best if nothing changed, which wasn’t really what we were looking for as a winless side set to face Chelsea next weekend!
The second half was a similar story, sadly. Only this time Palace found a breakthrough just 10 minutes after the restart.
After another abysmal pass was easily intercepted – this time the culprit was Sean Longstaff – Palace broke, got the ball wide and swung a cross up to Benteke. The big Belgian was too strong for Clark and this time headed past Darlow.
1-0 Palace. Exactly what we deserved and it nearly got worse five minutes later as Benteke hit the woodwork once again.
At this point I didn’t know what the game plan was. We needed to change things. The formation wasn’t working and, right on cue, Willock and Almiron were stripped and ready to come on as Jones prepared a double change.
Before that, however, Callum Wilson drew us level!
A corner kick was flung into the box, Krath flicked on the loose ball and our number nine improvised brilliantly to fire an overhead kick into the top left corner to make it 1-1!
We didn’t really deserve it but it was the moment of quality we’d been missing all game and came at a time where Palace were threatening to run away with it.
Frustratingly, we reverted to type soon after and were on the back foot, with Vieira throwing on Zaha and Benteke spurning another huge chance soon after when slipped through on goal.
Just as we were edging closer to a point, it looked like the big man had won it for Palace. He climbed highest from a corner and headed past Darlow, sending the home crowd wild and every Toon fan in the country slumped back into their seat.
Fortunately, VAR spotted Marc Guehi pulling down Ciaran Clark just as the ball came into the box and the referee disallowed the goal after watching the incident on the pitch-side monitor.
We held out for the five minutes of stoppage time and secured the point, which could prove to be a precious one in the end – even if the performance and results elsewhere create fresh cause for concern.
Next up, a clash with Chelsea at St James’ Park fresh from their 7-0 win over Norwich today!