There was sympathy from a surprising quarter for Newcastle United, with Michael Gray thinking they deserved the three points at Birmingham.

The former Sunderland player turned pundit, thought that on another day Newcastle ‘could have won by three or four’.

Michael Gray saying that it was an ‘outstanding performance from the Birmingham goalkeeper’.

Tomasz Kuszczak making three or four excellent interventions to prevent Rafa Benitez getting the victory.

However, the pivotal moment of the match was almost certainly when Matt Ritchie had a goal disallowed in the first half.

Rafa Benitez felt it definitely should have stood and TV pictures appeared to show that Ritchie was behind the ball when it was kicked, so he couldn’t then have been offside when he followed up and put away the rebound after Kuszczak saved the initial effort from a Newcastle player.

Michael Gray insisting ‘Newcastle have been hard done by’ when the officials combined to deny NUFC a perfectly good goal.

Michael Gray talking on Football On 5:

“I think he (Matt Ritchie) is onside, for the linesman to give it is a big call.

“If you are a centre-forward and somebody gives offside there, you are going crazy.

“What happened to giving the advantage to the forward player?

“Newcastle have been hard done by.

“On another day they could have won by three or four.

“It was an outstanding performance from the Birmingham goalkeeper.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Birmingham 0 Newcastle 0

Possession was Birmingham 35% Newcastle 65%

Total shots were Birmingham 9 Newcastle 17

Shots on target were Birmingham 1 Newcastle 3

Corners were Birmingham 3 Newcastle 5

Referee: Simon Hooper

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Hanley, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Colback, Gouffran (Atsu 82), Perez (Shelvey 78), Murphy (Gayle 63)

Unused Subs:

Elliot, Gamez, Mbemba, Mitrovic

Crowd: 19,796 (Newcastle 3,300)

(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to today’s game go HERE)

(To read what Rafa Benitez had to say post-match go HERE)

(To view the NUFC player ratings and add your own to our interactive system go HERE)