Newcastle 2 Hellas Verona 0 – Sunday 6 August 3pm
A very comfortable afternoon and win for Newcastle United in their final pre-season friendly.
A crowd of almost twenty four thousand (23,906, including around 250 Hellas Verona fans) seeing some good attacking play from United, with plenty of chances created.
Going two up in the first 12 minutes through Perez and Atsu, further goals were prevented by wasteful finishing, some decent saves, and in Ritchie’s case, the woodwork.
After only four minutes a sweeping move saw Manquillo released down the right and his low cross was smartly converted by Ayoze Perez as he shot across the goalkeeper.
Eight minutes later this became two, Christian Atsu powering home an effort from a tight angle into the roof of the net.
Mitrovic could have had a hat-trick as he put a few efforts wide and saw the keeper equal to another, whilst Perez and Shelvey also came close to making it three.
With this seemingly the eleven who will start against Tottenham, there were no changes at the break and this team got a full 64 minutes together before Rafa Benitez protected his team with sweeping changes, as eight came off and were replaced.
The ninth and final sub used in the 72nd minute when Siem de Jong came on for goalscorer Ayoze Perez. The Dutchman saw one powerful effort well saved, whilst after Murphy was brought down a couple of yards outside the box, Ritchie was unlucky when his free-kick came back off the post with the keeper well beaten.
Aarons looked lively and he had a couple of efforts on target but the score ended 2-0 at the final whistle.
After being deservedly beaten at Mainz, Newcastle have ended their friendly schedule with wins against what was effectively a Wolfsburg reserve side and a Hellas Verona outfit that offered absolutely nothing.
Some decent attacking play in both games by Newcastle and few problems at the back, though with today’s match being almost an attack against defence practice workout, not sure how it will translate into the Premier League action starting next Sunday.
The good news is that top performers from last season: Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie and Clark are all looking on top of their games. Whilst adding to that, Lejeune has seamlessly fitted in and Manquillo has done ok these last couple of matches with Yedlin injured.
Atsu looked sharp today and Merino & Murphy suggest they have something to offer, though it looks as though they will be starting on the bench next Sunday.
On the negative side, Dwight Gayle has joined DeAndre Yedlin on the injured list with what the Chronicle describes as a ‘hamstring niggle’. Only playing minutes against Mainz and then missing Wolfsburg and Hellas Verona, it isn’t what we wanted to see and surely he won’t be starting against Spurs – let’s hope it is just a niggle.
Mohamed Diame was tried as a kind of ‘false number nine’ for part of the Wolfsburg game and today Matt Ritchie ended up doing the same…we really do need at least one more striker to come in or else it is asking for trouble.
After the game Rafa Benitez suggested that Dwight Gayle could be in the squad next Sunday but surely he won’t be considered as a starter after so little football the past three matches and a chance of aggravating his ‘niggle’ if asked to start.
Newcastle 2 Hellas Verona 0
Sunday 6 August 3pm
Newcastle: Perez 4, Atsu 12
Elliot (Darlow 64), Manquillo (Gamez 64), Lejeune (Mbemba 64), Clark (Lascelles 64), Dummett (Aarons 64), Ritchie, Shelvey (Merino 64), Hayden, Atsu (Murphy 64), Pérez (de Jong 72), Mitrović (Diame 64)
Crowd: 23,906 (Approx 250 Verona)
The full first team and reserve/Under 23 pre-season schedules have been as follows:
The first team friendlies:
Friday 14 July – Hearts 1 Newcastle 2
Saturday 22 July – Preston 1 Newcastle 1
Wednesday 26 July – Bradford 0 Newcastle 4
Saturday 29 July – Mainz 2 Newcastle 1
Wednesday 2 August – Wolfsburg 1 Newcastle 3
Sunday 6 August – Newcastle 2 Hellas Verona 0
Under 23/Reserves pre-season friendlies:
Monday 17 July – Darlington 1 Newcastle 2
Saturday 22 July – Gateshead 0 Newcastle 3
Tuesday 25 July – Whitley Bay 0 Newcastle 0
Thursday 27 July – Celtic 1 Newcastle 2
Saturday 29 July – AZ Alkmaar 1 Newcastle 4