An 86th minute Ayoze Perez goal rescued a draw for Newcastle at Hull City on Tuesday night.
The travelling 2,000+ Newcastle fans predictably made their feelings known throughout the 90 minutes: support for Rafa Benitez and his players but total contempt for Mike Ashley.
Rafa may have used 20 different players last night but that can’t hide the desperate lack of quality in this squad.
Newcastle were the better team in the first half and controlled possession but could create little in open play, a feature of much of last season.
No surprise that when the opening goal did come on 15 minutes, it was courtesy of the one man (in 20) on display who is capable of producing something that can upset Premier League teams, never mind one that almost joined Sunderland in League One with a double relegation.
Shelvey’s quarterback style pass over the top released Joselu who timed his run well and he produced a very good composed finish to give United the lead. Needless to say, you would be very lucky to see such poor defending from a Premier League defence, especially how slow they were in reacting to the Newcastle striker beating the offside trap.
Newcastle could and should have added to that goal as free-kicks from Shelvey and Ritchie were well saved by Marshall in the home goal, the latter seeing his effort saved and Murphy having his follow-up header cleared off the line.
Apart from those efforts though, Newcastle created next to nothing, apart from Jacob Murphy putting the ball high into the crowd rather than the net, after a half chance was set up for him by Joselu.
With four minutes to go until half-time, Hull were level. Dan Batty scoring a fortunate goal as it hit off teammate Todd Kane and fooled Karl Darlow, it was Kane who was credited with the goal but not sure whether either player deserved it.
Six changes made at half-time and a further three as the second half progressed.
Hull City the better team after the break and that becoming increasingly so once Newcastle lost control in the middle of the pitch when Diame and Shelvey were subbed on 60 and 69 minutes respectively.
More poor defending saw the hosts take the lead through Evandro on 62 minutes, hammering home from inside the box and giving Woodman no chance.
Hull City should have gone on from there and comfortably won the game, creating a series of chances in open play that Newcastle had failed to do when dominant before the break.
A few minutes before the end though saw Newcastle keep a little bit of pre-season momentum, a left wing Ki Sung-yueng corner was flicked on by Clark and Perez scored from a yard or so off the line at the back post.
Both Shelvey and Woodman had attempted to gift Hull goals in that second period but luckily the keeper came to the midfielder’s rescue on the first one, whilst Woodman was rescued when the opposition player could only find the side netting when he should have scored.
Best to get your mistakes out of the way in pre-season but fact is, you would be very lucky to get away with those in the Premier League.
If Hull had won the game it wouldn’t have bothered me particular, as pre-season is all about getting fit and players gelling together again, along with new signings…
Speaking of which, this is where it does get worrying as in the absence of essential new signings, Newcastle are looking very very short on quality.
The positives/strengths were Shelvey’s passing and set-pieces, basically the main routes for scoring goals last season. No real chances created in open play, other than Shelvey’s inspired pass for Joselu’s goal.
It isn’t all doom and gloom but if you had to make a first eleven out of last night’s squad to face Tottenham, never mind worries about who you would put on the bench, Newcastle would be a sitting duck.
The other positive of course was the support, as usual.
Almost 2,500 travelling Newcastle fans who made all the noise and appeared to also outnumber those in the home sections.
The supporters have certainly not deserted the team or the management as yet but as many of us are now saying #IfRafaGoesWeGo – because this NUFC circus presided over by Mike Ashley, simply can’t be allowed to continue.
Hull City 2 Newcastle United 2
Hull City: Kane 41, Evandro 62
Newcastle United: Joselu 15, Perez 86
Darlow (Woodman 45), Yedlin (Sterry 45), Yarney (Hayden 53), Lascelles (Clark 45), Roberts (Manquillo 45), Shelvey (Sung-yueng 69), Diame (Fernandez 60), Murphy (Aarons 45), Longstaff, Ritchie, Joselu (Perez 45)