Yesterday, Newcastle and Aston Villa played out a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park in a game wasn’t exactly the most pleasurable watch of the season to date…
The result, while something of a slip up for our visitors, is no real concern to Newcastle fans. Currently sitting in 13th on 39 points, safety is all but assured for United whereas Villa continue to languish at the foot of the table in 19th.
The first half was a something of a crash back to Earth for Newcastle from the lofty heights of Sunday’s win over Sheffield United. We were poor in the early going and got quite lucky as Villa wasted a few decent chances to take the lead.
After around 35 minutes, Newcastle finally woke up and started playing a bit of football. Joelinton looked decent but the main threat was coming through the play of Allan Saint-Maximin down the wing, especially once he switched to the right.
The closest we came was a few minutes before half-time when Saint-Maximin darted down the right hand side, got to the byline and whipped a dangerous ball across the face of goal but there was nobody there to turn it in. If Joelinton had gambled on it he may have been able to turn home but he didn’t and the ball went harmlessly out of play for a throw-in.
For all their endeavour in the first half as well as one or two chances in the second, Villa actually fell behind as two Steve Bruce substitutions combined to give Newcastle the lead after 68 minutes. Super-sub Andy Carroll got the ball on the right and managed to pick out Dwight Gayle in the middle – the little striker made no mistake with the finish.
Victory wasn’t to be for United though as Villa equalised in the dying embers of the game. A corner from the left hand side was met my Ahmed Elmohamady at the near post, his effort managed to sneak through Jonjo Shelvey and Martin Dubravka at the near post as the pair got all mixed up – one of them just needed to take charge.
All-in-all, this is a game we should have won but ended up being a match in which we were lucky to come away with a point. It means very little for our season in all truth with safety having been all but assured at the weekend, but one more point towards that magic 40 mark is very welcome.
Now, we have the small matter of an FA Cup quarter-final to look forward to this weekend. Newcastle welcome Manchester City to St James’ Park as we look to book our trip to Wembley for a cup semi-final.
Both Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie went last night so both are now doubts for Sunday with knocks that Steve Bruce called “soft tissue injuries”. Hayden will be a huge miss if he isn’t to play on Sunday – United really could do with him in the middle of the park to break up play.
Either way, Sunday’s game promises to be a huge test for Newcastle and we’ll have more FA Cup based content between now and then to help you get in the mood for it. Comment below your favourite Newcastle United FA Cup memory!