Chris Hughton will always be a popular figure on Tyneside and he was welcomed accordingly on Saturday afternoon, the Newcastle fans even singing his name.
After Newcastle banked three points from the former NUFC Manager’s Brighton team, he left the north east thinking of what might have been.
Even though Chris Hughton accepts that ‘What Newcastle managed to do was control the game’, he still feels his players had the best two chances in open play and that Brighton’s stats (see below) were the equal of the home side’s.
Newcastle were one up when Baldock launched himself at Matz Sels and picked up a second yellow and a red – but even if he had remained on the pitch and they’d been allowed to put all the subs on the pitch as well, it is still unlikely they would have stopped the second goal, Shelvey scoring a ‘great free-kick’ (watch it HERE) according to Hughton.
Chris Hughton says that Brighton were ‘always in the game’ and it’s true that even at 2-0, if the opposition score then you are instantly fearing the worst.
Despite the man advantage, Rafa won’t have been pleased to see the lax defending that allowed a free shot inside the box that should have been a goal but the Brighton player hit the bar, whilst Matz Sels pulled off an outstanding save late on.
Overall though, after a tricky start to the game when Newcastle struggled to make inroads with Ayoze Perez finding it tough alone up front, the likes of Diame, Ritchie and Shelvey managed to put United on the front foot and after Lascelles scored on the 15th minute mark, I always felt Newcastle were going to win it.
“I was really disappointed because, even in hindsight, I thought we had a really good opportunity.
“I didn’t think we were good enough on the ball but our stats equal all of theirs.
“Arguably we had two of the best chances from open play in the game.
“We conceded from two set plays and the second one was a great free-kick.
“Occasionally you go somewhere and you are absolutely outclassed, they have lots of chances, your goalkeeper is having to make lots of saves.
“That wasn’t the case – and if that’s not the case it means you are always in the game.
“But we didn’t have a good enough control of the ball at times and we conceded bad goals.
“What Newcastle managed to do was control the game.
“It’s not as if they had lots of chances. They hit the crossbar in that first half but the two opportunities we had were, I thought, two of the best of the game.”
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Brighton 0
Newcastle: Lascelles 15, Shelvey 63
Possession was Brighton 45% Newcastle 55%
Total shots were Brighton 13 Newcastle 13
Shots on target were Brighton 2 Newcastle 4
Corners were Brighton 3 Newcastle 2
Team: Sels, Anita (Gamez 72), Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran (Yedlin 88), Ritchie, Diame (Colback 81), Perez
Unused Subs: Darlow, Clark, Armstrong, Hanley
Referee: Keith Stroud
(To view the fans’ Newcastle v Brighton player ratings and to add your own – Go HERE)
(To read the instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction to the match go HERE)