Seydou Doumbia boosted the crowd to 1,413 at St James Park on Monday night but fans are still waiting to have a proper look at the loan striker.
Having not played since 8 December 2015 (CSKA v PSV in the Champions League) the 28 year old was alway going to be a little rusty, having only had a few hours training with his new club.
However, only 10 minutes into his debut, albeit for Newcastle reserves, Seydou Doumbia found him having to play in a 10 man defensive formation after Newcastle saw Jamie Sterry sent off and Stoke score the resultant penalty.
The Ivory Coast striker was replaced by exciting future prospect 16 year old Geordie Lewis McNall at half-time and nobody was really any the wiser as to what impact he will have in the first team’s final 13 matches of the season.
Doumbia was rarely involved and the only positive can be that he got 45 minutes of football – certainly it is difficult to imagine him playing any significant part in Newcastle’s game at Chelsea on Saturday.
The 18 day gap that follows will surely be the making or breaking of the striker, in terms of once the game at Stoke comes around on 2 March, he will surely be fit enough by that point and then be able to show us what he can and can’t do once introduced to the first team picture.
The reserves/under 21s have only one game before that Stoke match, playing Fulham at home on 22 February but surely it is nailed on that at least one or two behind closed door friendlies will be sorted as well, to help both Seydou Doumbia and hopefully other returning players, to get match ready.
As for the match last night, those opening 10 minutes pretty much killed it, apart from United deserving credit for their spirited defending against the extra man.
They actually got back into the game only 10 minutes after going one behind, their goal was also from the penalty spot, with Dan Barlaser ticking it away after Callum Roberts was fouled in the box. Maybe a surprise that it wasn’t Seydou Doumbia who was given the chance to take the penalty.
After that leveller though it was pretty much one way traffic and Karl Darlow produced a series of excellent saves, showing the Doumbia boosted crowd hopefully a better idea of his ability, as opposed to his solitary nervous Premier League performance at West Brom.
With only 13 minutes remaining, Darlow was at last beaten by a long range shot that he could do little about.
Considering Newcastle’s precarious position, it was a surprise that they chose to bring in a striker who was never going to be available to play in the short-term.
Thankfully the win over West Brom has given Newcastle a little breathing space but you can’t help feeling that likely defeat at Chelsea will then have everything pointing to that match at Stoke City in three weeks time, when Seydou Doumbia and others will at least offer Steve McClaren more numerous options as the survival battle edges closer to the finishing line.
Watching from the stands were Doumbia’s Ivory Coast team-mate Cheick Tiote and January signing Jonjo Shelvey.
Newcastle United Under 21s 1 Stoke City Under 21s 2
Newcastle United: Darlow, Sterry, Gibson, Barlaser, Lascelles, Williams, C Smith (L Smith 46), Longstaff, Doumbia (McNall 46), Laidler (Adu-Peprah 81), Roberts
Crowd: 1,413 including first teamers Paul Dummett, Jonjo Shelvey and Cheick Tiote.