Doncaster Rovers 2 Newcastle United 2
Newcastle United’s second friendly of pre-season was a tale of two players, though they only played 11 minutes between them.
When Rafa Benitez named his team and subs, Gini Wijnaldum (and Florian Thauvin) was missing. Then in a last minute move they were both added to the bench.
With a move to Liverpool said to be imminent, Wijanldum replaced Shelvey on 79 minutes.
The mood of the 2,252 travelling supporters was markedly different for two of Newcastle’s stars, fans chanting:
‘Gini Wijnaldum,we want you to stay’ and also…’Moussa Sissoko, we want you to go.’
Interesting to see that Wijnaldum hasn’t burnt all his boats with Newcastle fans just yet, unlike his French counterpart.
As for the match itself, Newcastle were average at best in the first half and let themselves down badly at the back.
After 18 minutes Matz Sels gave away a really bad penalty and Doncaster’s Andy Williams converted.
Then in injury time it got worse, poor defending at a corner saw Doncaster win two headers and the second one ended up in the back of the net – Williams doubling his goal tally.
Adam Armstrong had been lively in that opening period and came closest to a goal, Janmaat’s cross seeing a very good effort from the Geordie striker tipped over the bar. Other than that though it wasn’t great from Newcastle.
Predictably there were a number of half-time changes and the team did look a bit more ready for business as they kicked off again.
The introduction of Isaac Hayden was a positive and he halved the deficit on 51 minutes after flicking on a corner, having gone close only a couple of minutes earlier.
Newcastle did improve in the second half with Gayle showing decent movement and forcing a good save from Marosi in the home goal. Whilst Thauvin did ok when he was given the last half hour after his late inclusion amongst the substitutes.
Results aren’t important but you can’t be happy when the team put in an uninspired display against League Two opponents.
Man of the moment Gini Wijnaldum arrived on 79 minutes but it was Ayoze Perez who ensured Newcastle would remain undefeated in pre-season (so far).
On 90 minutes the Spaniard cut inside and struck the equaliser, giving the scoreline a more realistic look.
In the final seconds of injury time Wijnaldum almost won it for the visitors but Marosi smothered his scuffed effort.
No doubt Rafa Benitez is learning all the time from watching his players in pre-season, interesting to know what he made of this.
Crowd: 5,698 (Newcastle 2,252)
Newcastle starting 11:
Sels, Janmaat (Sterry 46), Mbemba (Saivet 67), Lascelles (c) (Dummett 46), Anita (Gamez), Shelvey (Wijnaldum 79), Colback (Hayden 46), Ritchie (Gouffran 46), Armstrong (Thauvin 62), Aarons (Perez 46), Mitrovic (Gayle 46)