Newcastle hosted West Ham this evening at St James’ Park in a match that saw the Magpies start the evening in fourth spot following an earlier Manchester United win. Only a win would have restored Newcastle to third place, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Eddie Howe’s men got off to a blinding start with Joe Willock having the ball in the net after just 38 seconds, however, VAR correctly ruled that the ball had gone out of play in the build-up. However, while Sky Sports were analysing the replays, Sean Longstaff played a defence-splitting through ball which was perfectly weighted for Callum Wilson to run onto and stroke around the onrushing Lukas Fabianski. Unfortunately, Wilson didn’t follow up on his promise of dancing in Michail Antonio’s face and opted to celebrate in the Gallowgate End with the rest of his teammates.
West Ham weren’t rattled though, and quickly gained control of the game, taking just 15 minutes to draw level as a corner reached the back post for Lucas Paqueta to stab home prompting Twitter to erupt with “It had to be him” type tweets after a summer of expecting him to join Newcastle to link up with his best pal, Bruno Guimaraes.
I said in the preview that Newcastle are far from a one-man team and wouldn’t miss Bruno Guimaraes as much as we perhaps would have in the past. I was wrong. In the first half particularly, Newcastle looked completely lost in the middle of the park – we just lacked that touch of class that Bruno gives us.
Allan Saint-Maximin didn’t do anything to suggest he is the man to make the difference after being given his chance in the starting lineup. He looked completely off his game, as he has done for a while now. If he does something good to lift your hopes, he immediately follows it up with something bad to undo all that goodwill.
The Hammers came out for the second half just as they went in at half-time, full of confidence, moving the ball around and making our boys look leggy and clueless. Newcastle did come back into the game, though, and from 55 minutes onwards seemed to be in control.
Anthony Gordon came on for his debut just after the hour mark and looked extremely sharp, he quickly became our biggest threat. His one-touch passing caused West Ham no end of problems, but it was yet again, our lack of urgency and lack of ideas in the final third that cost us.
The game ended 1-1 marking our tenth draw of the season, our fourth in five league games. We are now in fourth spot in the league and our form compared to those around us is a worry if we want to stay in and around those European spots come the end of the season.
We travel to Bournemouth next week for the late kick-off again, and I’d expect to see Anthony Gordon on from the start in place of Saint-Maximin for that one.
As for our Man Of The Match, I was thinking maybe Sean Longstaff as he battled well as always, and his ball for Callum Wilson’s goal was a thing of beauty, but ultimately, it was Kieran Trippier who didn’t seem to put a foot wrong tonight.