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Newcastle 1 Watford – Lowest NUFC PL crowd in 7 years see Bruce’s team struggle against bottom club

3 months ago
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Newcastle 1 Watford 1 – Saturday 31 August 3pm

Steve Bruce’s team were stunned to go behind after only 70 seconds.

A Tom Cleverley deflected shot fell for Will Hughes and as Newcastle were very slow to react, the Watford midfielder put a low effort past Martin Dubravka.

However, it should have been 1-1 only two minutes later, Christian Atsu plays the ball but Miguel Almiron’s control let him down.

Four minutes before half-time and it was level, Emil Krafth crosses a hopeful ball into the middle of the box and Fabian Schar shot past Ben Foster after a knockdown from Isaac Hayden.

That was basically it in the first half, plenty of effort from both sides but little quality in forward areas. The stats summing it up, the first 45 minutes seeing only two shots on target – the two goals.

Around 10 minutes into the second half and Newcastle finally got properly into it, a 10 minute or so spell when they actually looked decent.

An excellent deep free-kick cross drops perfectly for Fabian Schar 10 yards out but he possibly sees it only at the last second and puts his headed effort wide.

Then Lascelles does really well to come out of defence up the left touchline and releases Atsu beyond the last defender. He gets into the box and pulls it back for Almiron but he doesn’t connect properly and his weak effort is blocked.

Longstaff squares it to midfield partner Hayden and his effort from 25 yards is tipped over by Foster.

Sean Longstaff himself then strides forward and hits a low shot from 25 yards but not quite enough power and Foster saves low to his right.

However, when the goal didn’t come, belief and energy levels appeared to drop, despite most of the team having been rested in midweek for the League Cup defeat.

Watford realised they had the upper hand and little threat facing them.

The final 20 minutes saw them pushing forward and committing numbers, going close on a number of occasions.

The ball squared to Gray on 72 minutes in front of goal but he completely misses the ball.

With just over 10 minutes to go an unmarked Success met a cross from the right only eight yards out and looked certain to score, only for him to head it into the ground and Dubravka do well to tip it away.

Six minutes to go and a Cleverley effort from 25 yards hit his own player and spun just wide of the far post with Dubravka well beaten.

Pereyra then advancing from midfield and his shot from the edge of the area produced an excellent save from Dubravka.

Newcastle did have one effort late on, with four minutes left Joelinton dropped deep to help the defence, won the ball and after a 30 yard run released Muto behind the Watford defence but it ended with a very poor effort wide of the post.

The story of the game for me was not enough quality from wide areas for Newcastle and not enough players getting into the box.

Apart from that 10 minute spell in the second half when Watford were rocking, Newcastle struggled to threaten Ben Foster’s goal.

Both Almiron and Joelinton went down claiming penalties in but both appeared to slip rather than be fouled, VAR not intervening either.

The lack of quality alternatives on the bench in terms of goals and creativity was summed up by no attacking changes until 82 minutes when Muto replaced Atsu.

The point does ensure Newcastle aren’t in the relegation zone heading into the international break but it has to be a worry when playing a poor team lacking confidence at St James Park, NUFC have such little attacking threat.

The lowest Premier League crowd in seven years (Newcastle beat Wigan on Monday 3 December in front of 43,858) saw 44,157 as the official attendance, although looking around there could have been even more than the official 8,000+ empty seats.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Watford 1 – Saturday 31 August 3pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

Schar 41

Watford:

Hughes 2

Possession was Watford 51% Newcastle 49%

Total shots were Watford 13 Newcastle 13

Shots on target were Watford 3 Newcastle 5

Corners were Watford 5 Newcastle 6

Referee: Graham Scott

Newcastle team v Watford:

Dubravka, Krafth (Manquillo 78), Schar (Fernandez 85), Lascelles, Dummett, Willem, Hayden, Longstaff, Atsu (Muto 82), Almiron, Joelinton

Unused Subs

Darlow, Clark, Ki, Shelvey

Crowd: 44,157  (approx 1,500 Watford)

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