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Steve Bruce reflects on Aston Villa draw and the positives and negatives “It’s better than nothing”

2 months ago
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Steve Bruce was left reflecting on what might have been on Wednesday night.

Newcastle seven minutes away from picking up three points and losing two key players to injury in the final 25 minutes.

Steve Bruce had said before the Sheffield United match that Matt Ritchie was an injury doubt, yet the head coach started him in that game and Villa only three days later.

Limping off on 67 minutes, Steve Bruce admitted afterwards that it doesn’t look good, as ‘genuine and honest’ players such as Ritchie don’t insist on coming off for no reason.

Isaac Hayden falls into the same category, also forced off with injury and the head coach left thinking about the wisdom of last night’s team selection.

Already safe in the league after Sunday’s result, it was bizarre to see Steve Bruce name exactly the same team only three days later, especially with this FA Cup game looming on Sunday.

Manchester City should surely have been the big focus, Pep Guardiola said on Wednesday that Newcastle is his big priority ahead of Chelsea tonight, indicating that he will play a weakened team and keep star players back to try and win the FA Cup.

Against the second worst team in the Premier League, Newcastle yet again struggled to create chances against eleven men.

It took very poor defensive play from Villa (which explains why they are going down) and a great ball from Carroll and finish by Gayle, to break the deadlock.

Ironic that it was then a bad mistake from Dubravka that threw away the points, a fair result though as the two sides managed only five shots on target between them.

Here’s hoping that the Newcastle keeper has got that mistake behind him and will return to his usual match saving heroics against Man City, he may well need them more than ever if NUFC are missing key players such as Hayden and Ritchie, plus potentially others.

Steve Bruce:

“They [Ritchie and Hayden] are both soft tissue injuries.

“We will have to wait and see but the pair of them are genuine and honest, so for them to come off…

“We hope we have caught it and it’s more precautionary but of course you have to err on the side of caution and we will have to see how they are.

“We hope some of the [other] niggles are just a bit of fatigue but we’ll see how they are over the weekend.

“I don’t think we got to the levels that we did at the weekend [against Sheffield United], but the disappointing and frustrating thing for us, is getting in front and not seeing it through.

“The one thing we have been good at is seeing it through and to give a poor goal away like we have done…we will analyse that again.

“To give a soft goal, that’s the frustration because we haven’t hit the heights of what we did at the weekend, we had a great chance of winning the match and didn’t see it through.

“It’s better than nothing so let’s try and enjoy the rollercoaster along the way and I think we are going to see a lot of games like that and we already have.

“It’s the first goal we’ve conceded in five games ([ED: Had kept three PL clean sheets in a row before this game], so to not see it through and concede a goal like that, we have got to be disappointed.

“If someone had said in these awful times that we would have taken four points from our first two games back, I would have accepted it, but we are disappointed not to see it through.

“We have a great opportunity to push on a bit now, can we push on and catch the teams above us and finish the season looking upwards, rather than just looking over our shoulders?

“All of the squad are going to be important, because we’re going to pick up a few niggles, so it’s great to have the two of them [Carroll and Gayle] available.

“I have said all along with Dwight, week after week, that it would be great to have him back fit, and it is exactly the same with Andy.

“They have both been plagued but hopefully the three months off has done them the world of good and I was delighted with the way they linked up.

“All through his career we have always known Dwight was a goalscorer and I’m pleased for him tonight.

“I’ve tried to buy him three times and if you are looking in the Championship, the first one on your list was always Dwight Gayle because of his natural finishing.

“I want him to stay fit because as you saw with the way he scored his goal today, he’has got that crucial thing of being able to score.

“He’s got the knack and when you’ve got that, it’s invaluable.

“Let’s hope he stays fit.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Aston Villa 1  – Wednesday 24 June 6pm

Goals:

Newcastle United:

Gayle 68

Aston Villa:

El Mohamady 83

Possession was Villa 48% Newcastle 52%

Total shots were Villa 14 Newcastle 13

Shots on target were Villa 2 Newcastle 3

Corners were Villa 9 Newcastle 6

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Rose, Hayden (Benetaleb 86), Shelvey, Ritchie (Gayle 67), Almiron (Lazaro 86), Joelinton (Carroll 64), Saint-Maximin

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Muto, Krafth, Yedlin, Schar

Crowd: 00,000

(Steve Bruce has confirmed two Newcastle United players now injured after 1-1 draw with Aston Villa – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 Aston Villa 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Wednesday’s draw – Read HERE)

(Dean Smith finds Newcastle United match annoying as ‘better team’ Aston Villa deserved the win – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 Aston Villa 1 – Watch official match highlights HERE including both goals)

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