Absolute proof – You shouldn’t take anything for granted with the Premier League
Plucky Luton? You bet.
Whilst we undoubtedly had enough chances to win this one, the Hatters themselves could have so easily nicked all three points deep into time added on when Chiedozie Ogbene forced a late save from Martin Dubravka.
That might have been a fitting, if not galling, climax given the pacey Irish winger had roasted Dan Burn up until the point that he was replaced by Tino Livramento, Luton clearly setting out to expose BDB’s sluggishness, which they did to great effect.
By the time Tino was on the park, we were 4-2 down.
The first half had certainly provided glimpses of what was to unfurl in the second period, but the mood around me up in Level 7 was still upbeat, despite having been pegged back twice with the score level at 2-2 as the players went down the tunnel.
There was a caveat though. The consensus seemed to be that Tino would replace Burn at half time. More on that later.
Before the game, I had been buoyed when a text from a reliable source indicated that Callum Wilson and Harvey Barnes would make the bench. The worry was whether Alex Isak would, after limping off at Villa Park on Tuesday.
When the line up was announced as me and the lad supped at one of our favoured watering holes, the news that the Swede had failed a late fitness test, whilst Wilson and Barnes were in the squad, made the beer taste bitter sweet. We would be starting the game without a recognised striker.
Never mind, we were a goal to the good inside seven minutes, Lewis Miley finding Trippier out wide, whose cross was met by Sean Longstaff, 1-0 and as ever, getting ahead quickly against a team who would be forced to leave gaps felt good.
Luton were competitive though and equalised in the 21st minute when Ross Barkley’s freekick was headed back across the area and Gabriel Osho got above everyone to direct his header over Dubravka.
Their celebrations were shortlived. Longstaff got his second just two minutes later after Anthony Gordon had outpaced Osho. Cutting in from the left, Gordon’s shot stung keeper Thomas Kaminski’s hands and wor Sean duly obliged with another neat finish.
With just five minutes to see out before the interval, Longstaff lost out to Barkley in the middle of the park. Barkley drove forward and played a neat ball out wide to Alfie Doughty whose shot was parried by Dubravka into the path of Barkley, his shot nestling in the back of the Gallowgate goal.
As the players came out for the second half, we saw that Wilson had replaced Gordon and had assumed it was to give young Anthony a break. He’d looked knackered towards the end of the first half but none of us knew he’d be leaving SJP sporting a moon boot. More injury woes!
There was no sign of Tino and Howe clearly hadn’t heeded the warnings.
Before Wilson could make an impact, we were 4-2 down.
Just before the hour, Ogbene had ghosted past Burn and was pulled back, VAR decreeing it inside the box after the on field decision had been to award the visitors a freekick. Carlton Morris eventually dispatched the penalty, his first effort taken before the referee had signalled for him to do so. When this happens, the jitters can often get the better of the penalty taker, but that was wishful thinking on the part of the St James’ Park faithful, as the big midfielder showed great composure to send Dubravka the wrong way for a second time.
Three minutes later, Burn’s horrific afternoon was complete, losing possession before Ross Barkley laid the ball to Elijah Adebayo who shot across Dubravka, making it 4-2.
It seemed like Nottingham Forest and Boxing day all over again, but Howe had seen enough, Burn finally making way for Tino and Harvey Barnes replaced Miggy, taking to the field for the fist time since limping off at Bramhall Lane.
That lifted the crowd and the response from those in the black and white was instantaneous.
Trippier’s neat volley from a delightful Guimaraes cross with the outside of his foot pulled one back on 67 minutes and Barnes’ lovely sweeping finish from the edge of the box after great work by Lewis Miley got us level at 4-4 in the 73rd minute.
With seventeen minutes of regulation time remaining and another ten to be added on, it seemed likely that Newcastle would go on to grab a winner. However, we looked spent and as the clock ran down there was more of an inevitability about Luton seeing it out and Ogbene nearly nicked it.
After the highs of winning at Villa Park on Tuesday, the first team to do so this season, it seemed that Luton were there for the taking. However, they’d already put us to the sword at Kenilworth Road before Christmas and you shouldn’t take anything for granted with the Premier League. Luton were competitive and combative and on balance, despite Newcastle having enough chances to win it, probably deserved their point. HTL.
Stats via BBC Sport:
Newcastle 4 Luton 4 – Saturday 3 February 2024 3pm:
Longstaff 7, 23, Trippier 67, Barnes 73
Osho 21, Barkley 40, Morris pen 59, Adebayo 62
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was Luton 46% (51%) Newcastle 54% (49%)
Total shots were Luton 11 (7) Newcastle 19 (6)
Shots on target were Luton 8 (4) Newcastle 6 (3)
Corners were Luton 2 (2) Newcastle 8 (4)
Referee: Thomas Bramall
Newcastle team v Luton:
Dubravka, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn (Livramento 64), Longstaff, Guimaraes, Miley, Murphy, Almiron (Barnes 63), Gordon (Wilson 45)
Karius, Dummett, Ritchie, Krafth, Hall, White
(Newcastle 4 Luton 4 – Match ratings and comments on all the Newcastle United players – Read HERE)
(Eddie Howe with blinding honesty after Newcastle 4 Luton 4 – If only more managers the same – Read HERE)
(Just a normal day – Barnes and Wilson back from injury and Anthony Gordon leaves on crutches – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 4 Luton 4 at St James’ Park – What can you say? Well how about… Read HERE)
(Newcastle 4 Luton 4 – Instant Newcastle United fan / writer reaction – Read HERE)
Newcastle United confirmed matches to early March 2024:
Saturday 10 February 2024 – Forest v Newcastle (5.30pm) Sky Sports
Saturday 17 February 2024 – Newcastle v Bournemouth (3pm)
Saturday 24 February 2024 – Arsenal v Newcastle (8pm) TNT Sports
Tuesday 27 February 2024 – Blackburn v Newcastle (7.45pm) BBC1
Saturday 2 March 2024 – Newcastle v Wolves (3pm)
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