Newcastle 4-4 Luton: Toon’s defensive weaknesses exposed in eight-goal thriller

A brace from local lad Sean Longstaff wasn’t enough for all three points as Newcastle played out a thrilling eight-goal draw with Luton at St James’ Park.

Sean Longstaff’s two goals either side of Gabriel Osho’s equaliser looked to be the difference for the Toon but Ross Barkley’s goal just before half-time meant that the game was a stalemate at the break.

A penalty from Carlton Morris and a strike from Elijah Adebayo saw Luton go 4-2 up before Kieran Trippier and Harvey Barnes levelled the game again in a pulsating, but frustrating second-half.

Dropped points mean that Newcastle missed the chance to move back up the table into European contention after a strong win against highly-rated Villa midweek.

After having some luck in wide areas in the opening minutes, Trippier found himself on the right flank. The right back flashed a ball low towards the penalty area and Longstaff came crashing into the box to fire the Toon ahead.

But Luton were level on 21 minutes after Carlton Morris nodded across a set piece for Osho to head in off the bar.

No sooner than Newcastle fans could vent their frustration of Osho being left free in the six-yard-box, the Mags were ahead again. Gordon got away from his defender superbly on the left-hand side and cut inside for a shot on goal. It was parried but only as far as Longstaff who buried his second in the far corner.

After getting to a loose ball from Longstaff, Barkley drove forward between the midfield and defensive lines and was first to the rebound after Doughty’s strike was parried into his feet for a tap in.

We were on top in the first half, but some sloppy periods of possession allowed Luton space to run into on a couple of occasions. The midfield three looked less energetic and disciplined after Bruno’s knock midway through the first half.

Wilson made his return from injury at the start of the second half, replacing Gordon. A switch up in the front three ensued and Almiron and Murphy swapped sides.

Ogbene had Burn’s number for the entire afternoon and the pacey winger eventually won a penalty after getting past Burn. He was judged to have pulled him down in the box and Luton had three after Morris converted from the spot.

Three minutes later Luton were 4-2 up after Barkley slipped the ball to Adebayo in the box after calamitous defending left him free to pick his spot in the far corner.

But Newcastle were not giving up on the game and within five minutes Trippier had reduced Luton’s lead to one after meeting Bruno’s cross with a thumping low volley.

And oh my goodness this match! Five minutes after Trippier’s volley made it 4-3, Newcastle were level through Barnes who marked his first game for the Toon since an injury in September with an equaliser. He found the bottom corner with a great strike from distance as the game got even more crazy.

It was a second half of purely chaotic Premier League football and you have a feeling that Kevin Keegan would be proud of the never-say-die approach from both teams.

However, frailties at the back have plagued Newcastle in recent weeks and it could be argued that Howe has a very important decision to make with regards to his back four going forward. Dan Burn’s lack of pace has been exploited twice this week, firstly by Villa’s Leon Bailey and today by Luton’s Ogbene.

Livramento came on in the second-half and the chances down our left dried up for Luton, with Ogbene not longer able to beat his man with ease.

It was nice though to see Wilson and Barnes back in the squad and making an impact on the pitch. We haven’t been able to see what Barnes has fully been able to do – this was only his seventh league game in black and white.

On a frustrating afternoon where the Toon’s attacking prowess was cancelled out by defensive mistakes, seeing us slip to 9th after Brighton’s 4-1 win over Palace. Hopefully this isn’t a game that we look back on at the end of the season as a missed opportunity.

NUFC XI: Dubravka, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Bruno, Longstaff, Miley, Murphy, Almiron, Gordon.

SUBS: Karius, Dummett, Wilson, Ritchie, Barnes, Krafth, Hall, Livramento, White.

About Joshua Nichol

Joshua is a freelance journalist currently training at Sunderland Uni, but is a lifelong Newcastle fan and enjoyer of retro football kits.

8 thoughts on “Newcastle 4-4 Luton: Toon’s defensive weaknesses exposed in eight-goal thriller

  1. It cries out for nufc to do the
    Home work on teams with
    Pace.burns is a good c back
    But any pace hes done.cost us
    At the time we were on top.
    Lavremento should have been


  2. Jon – completely agree.

    An easy but weak blame would be to point the finger at Burn – but that wouldn’t be fair imo.

    What’s annoying is that we’ve had the warning in recent games – Elanga against Forest, Bailey against Villa & the lad today just had the time of his life.

    We were also caught out with our flat midfield again today. Barkley played between the midfield & defence & had a field day.

    Nobody stepped up & took charge on the pitch. There was no leader to organise our defensive play – headless chickens.

    Longstaff was excellent getting forward & took his goals well – but he was so weak in the tackle as were the other 2 in midfield.

    Great to have Barnes back, but Gordon leaves SJP in a moon boot 😡😡🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️


  3. I think the issue yesterday was that with Gordon moving to CF his replacement wasn’t getting back to support Burn as normal so there were far more 1 on 1s than normal.


  4. Well said prem. it’s not as simple as burn is slow. We saw the adjustment yesterday befor halfmtime as almiron was dropping deeper.
    However when nufc were sloppy in possession and lost the ball, Luton were set up to counter, were quick and aggressive doing so and burn got exposed badly.
    That said I do think the sub should’ve been made at 1/2 time( latest) and would expect livramento to be preferred starter for the remainder of the season


  5. Prem – I was steaming yesterday but I couldn’t decide who with – and still can’t really.

    Burn has been caught out against quick wingers in recent games. I take your point about Gordon, but Burn still got rinsed against Elanga playing Forest.

    I initially felt annoyed with Howe for keep picking him & expecting different – however, that defensive solidity comes from a consistent back 4 I think & the truth is that Burn has been part of that since Howe came in – Howe said it yesterday & he’s right. Burn was outstanding against Villa until Bailey came on & Howe reacted to that.

    I can’t bring myself to be annoyed with Burn himself because the bloke gives his everything for that shirt. He might be chasing a speedster of a winger but watch Burn – he never gives up the chase. He plays with so much heart & determination every game.

    Prem may be right about Gordon, but I also think Botman alongside Burn wasn’t at the races yesterday. Young Miley didn’t seem to get back with the same level of intensity.
    Look at their 4th & it comes from an awful ball from Schar into Burn that put him on his backside trying to control it – Luton break & Burn isn’t in position & Schar is all at sea trying to get back in – but midfielders were running hard to get back in either.

    What was good was when Howe eventually changed it – Tino & Barnes looked good together down that left. So Howe has options.


  6. With us currently only really having Bruno, Longstaff & Miley as fit midfielders I wouldn’t mind seeing Howe try something a bit different because I think teams have figured us out.

    We have Burn, Botman, Schar, Dummett, Krafth & Lascelles all who can play CBs.

    We also have Trippier, Tino, Hall, Ritchie, Murphy that can play wing backs.

    Why not drop one of the midfielders & go 3 at the back with wing backs.

    I don’t think that has to be a negative or defensive change necessarily either.

    We have just felt very one dimensional this season & even when Howe makes changes – it only tends to be personnel rather than tactical.


  7. Bringing in livramento as LB leaves the 433 which still feels part of, if not the main, problem with the current players.

    I wonder if Livramento who has shown he can pretty much play anywhere could be dropped into left side alongside burn as a 5 defensively and switching to 3 going forward. Give miley a break as he looks like he needs it


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