Newcastle 0 Stoke o Saturday 31 October 3pm
So, a nil-nil draw with Stoke. It’s like this match exists as an antonym to the hype and hysteria of the Premier League, as a note of caution to any unlikely promotee making their way out of the Championship; “the novelty will soon wear off when you’re drawing 0-0 at home to Stoke!”
This game offered a sharp contrast to the previous two weeks, after the Norwich game displayed devastating potential that could support optimistic hopes of a season salvaging coming together… and the bitter sense of injustice of the derby robbery sounding alarms of impending catastrophe, this game had nothing like that.
It was just a bit….. middling.
It’s true that Newcastle were the stronger side for arguably the third game running. Unlike the Wearside misery though, attempts on goal had a little bit more venom about them.
The first chance of note saw Mitrovic flick a header onto the post that was smothered by Jack Butland before anyone could get near the rebound. This set the tone for Butland being completely unbeatable all afternoon in a display that had to be admired, but was deeply frustrating given our unsettling league position.
Twice Sissoko unleashed vicious drives that we could only forlornly wish for amongst last Sunday’s daisy cutters, and twice Butland was equal to them. When Wijnaldum beat the wall to put a smart second-half free kick on target, the Stoke goalie was there again.
He was also on hand to deny the best efforts of Ayoze Perez, who put in another gutsy showing up front and was the most likely looking to make something happen throughout.
However, for the second week in a row the young Tenerifian wore the look of the thoroughly unimpressed person, as a shower of thugs clad in red and white practised a heavy handed rearguard action that saw him regularly picking himself up off the turf.
More in his element in this type of ruck was of course Mitrovic, who spent the full game scrapping with Shawcross and Wollscheid and admirably holding his own against the pair of them.
Unfortunately, he had to let himself down when one such incident with Wollscheid saw the Stoke man flick a hand facewards and our strapping centre forward went down like a sack of hammers, doing that miserable face holding thing that makes us all hate footballers.
The ref was pragmatic enough to give a deserved booking to Wollscheid for the series of fouls and raised hand, while sending a yellow Mitro’s way too, possibly for making a bit of a tit of himself.
There was cause for concern when Janmaat landed awkwardly and immediately signalled to come off, although he did manage an extra few minutes before succumbing. After blotting his copybook at Swansea this lad has been our one consistency, adding an extra dimension to attack as well as working his socks off in defence, and would be many people’s choice to be this club’s next captain. Hopefully he won’t miss any game time.
It was the Dutchman’s replacement that nearly had the final say though, as Lascelles met a late corner with the type of magnificent power header that you forget should be part of a centre halve’s arsenal. It deserved to win the game but Butland was there again, sweeping it over the bar when he had no bloody right to.
So there you have it, basically a stunning goalkeeping performance but still some concerns over our lack of goals.
Despite the two points dropped feeling, results elsewhere were kind and we actually gained ground on most of the bottom half. Once again we look at next week’s match with heightened importance as it offers our latest chance to escape the bottom three.
However, goalkeepers may again be the focus as United seem on the verge of a small crisis.
I thought Rob Elliot had a decent game, not a great deal to do but one quality save from a Walters header when he was called upon. Also, it’s hard not to appreciate his kicks and distribution, a marked improvement on the weaker element of Krul’s game. This was all apparently done through the pain barrier though, and we may be seeing what Freddie Woodman is made of at Bournemouth.
Hopefully we can head to the Vitality Stadium and capitalise on Bournemouth’s shaky form as they come to terms with life in the Premier League.
You have to fear for them when it comes to a cold Tuesday night away to Stoke……
These are the key stats as provided by BBC Sport;
Possession was 52% Newcastle and 48% Stoke
Total shots was 15 for Newcastle and Stoke 9
Shots on target was Newcastle 6 and Stoke 2
While corners was Newcastle 11 and Stoke 4
Team: Elliot, Janmaat (Lascelles 83), Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Tiote (de Jong 71), Anita, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Perez, Mitrovic
Unused Subs: Woodman, Haidara, Thauvin, Cisse
Ref: Roger East
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