Newcastle and Brighton play out poor goalless draw

Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron reacts during the Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron (Credit: Getty Images)

Brighton left St James’ Park with a point after drawing 0-0 with a sorry Newcastle.

Graham Potter’s side were much the better of the two teams, with lively possession and good energy, but failed to make their chances count. Newcastle, however, looked poor and left their fans frustrated with a passive and forgettable performance.

Steve Bruce made one change from their defeat to Liverpool, with Javier Manquillo replacing Emil Krafth at right-back. Andy Carroll also made the Newcastle bench after recovering from an ankle injury, nine years after his last appearance for the club.

Midfielder Steven Alzate made his Premier League debut for Brighton, as one of three changes from the draw with Burnley. Aaron Moy and Martin Montoya came into the side, with Solly March and Glenn Murray the players making way.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Neal Maupay of Brighton and Hove Albion shoots at goal challenged by Javier Manquillo of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion at St. James Park on September 21, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Neal Maupay of Brighton (Credit: Getty Images)

It was a first half in which Brighton were everything Newcastle were not; positive, alert and first to the ball.

From the off it appeared that Bruce’s side were taking their role as hosts far too seriously, sitting in and allowing Brighton plenty of the ball. The lack of pressure meant that the Seagulls looked comfortable in possession from the off. And it was they that had the game’s first chance.

A through-ball to striker Neal Maupay inside the area looked too heavy but he still managed to get his shot away from a tight angle, with Martin Dubravka saving smartly.

As the game progressed Brighton enjoyed plenty of the ball, with Newcastle consistently giving it away cheaply. They did fashion a good chance when Miguel Almiron found himself with space in the Brighton box, but he shot straight at Matt Ryan.

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At the other end Maupay continued to cause problems. His deep cross from the left found Pascal Gross, who headed back across goal. When Adam Webster romped down the right wing his cross found Maupay, but his shot was blocked.

Newcastle’s best chance came from a set-piece when Joelinton headed wide from a corner, but it was immediately followed up with Brighton going close again at the other end. The visitors thought they had taken a deserved lead when debutant Steven Alzate headed home a cross from the left, but he strayed offside and caught the attention of the assistant referee.

When the half-time whistle came, the boos rang out across St James’ Park, with the home side lucky to go in level after an insipid performance.

Within a minute of the restart, Newcastle put a move together better than anything they managed in the first-half. Neat, intricate buildup on the right hand side saw Joelinton play the ball low and hard into Christian Atsu at the near post, but his powerful shot went wide.

It appeared, however, that it was a false dawn for the home supporters as the half continued in a similar fashion to the first 45. Brighton’s energetic frontline pressed high and forced Newcastle to give the ball away cheaply, playing poor passes that the visitors mopped up neatly. From there they could keep possession and control of the game.

As good as Brighton were, the longer the game went on the more frustrated they got, knowing that they would have to take at least one of their chances.

With 20 minutes left to play, Steve Bruce made changes, throwing Ki and Allan Saint-Maximin on for Miguel Almiron and the disappointing Jonjo Shelvey. Immediately after the game ramped up a gear.

First it was Brighton, with Aaron Connolly darting into the box and lifting the ball over Dubravka, only to see Fabian Schar athletically clear the ball off the line. Newcastle flew up the pitch and slid in Joelinton, but his low shot was blocked by a brilliant tackle from Lewis Dunk.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Andy Carroll of Newcastle United holds off Lewis Dunk of Brighton and Hove Albion during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion at St. James Park on September 21, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Andy Carroll (Credit: Getty Images)

Then came the biggest roar of the night, but still no goal. The sight of Carroll taking off his bib and making his way to the touchline to come on, bringing St James’ Park to its feet.

As a result, any corner or free-kick near the Brighton box created huge excitement in the hope the hefty target man could make his presence felt. It didn’t come, however, as the best they could muster was Joelinton sending a shot far over the bar.

The six minutes of stoppage time spurred the home fans on, hoping to get something out of a poor performance all round. They saw more of the ball than at any point of the game, and Brighton, so composed for so long, suddenly looked nervy.

In the end, they held out. And it’ll be mixed feelings for Potter and his troops, who were by far the better team but with just the single point to show for it. Seagulls fans will be pleased with the work Potter is doing and the football that they’re watching, but they deserved more.

Bruce on the other hand, has a huge task ahead of him. Devoid of ideas and with fans on his back from the moment he walked through the door, it could be a long old season on the Tyne.

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