Newcastle frustrated as late Dominic Calvert-Lewin penalty rescues Everton

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Dominic Calvert-Lewin;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Dominic Calvert-Lewin</a> levels from the penalty spot to rescue a point for Everton.</span><span>Photograph: Lee Parker/CameraSport/Getty Images</span>

Will April prove the cruellest month for Everton? No one can be quite sure but even though it has not started exactly brilliantly for Sean Dyche’s team they at least managed to defy the doom-mongers by fighting back to salvage an unlikely point on a chilly Tyneside.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s first goal since October, an 88th-minute penalty, admittedly failed to prevent Everton from extending their winless Premier League run to 13 games yet it could come to be seen as a psychological turning point.

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Granted the Merseysiders – already docked six points for breaking profit and sustainability rules this season – remain in real relegation trouble but they creditably failed to fold after a goal from the excellent, electric and very much in form Alexander Isak gave Newcastle an early lead.

While Dyche and co are braced for another imminent points deduction following further financial breaches, Calvert-Lewin’s late contribution from the bench dented ­Newcastle’s hopes of qualifying for another ­European adventure next season.

“It was frustrating,” said Howe, who saw Dan Burn have a goal ruled out for an offside against Isak ­following a VAR review. “We deserved three points but Everton were never out of it.”

Dyche seemed cautiously ­optimistic. “There’s still a long way to go but we’re taking a lot of steps in the right direction,” he said. “Tonight was a really good performance, ­particularly in the second half. The mentality was right.”

Jordan Pickford’s excellence with his feet could yet save his teammates from the Championship. The accuracy and range of the England keeper’s long kicks proved one of the evening’s recurring themes.

Yet even Pickford – heavily booed throughout on account of his Sunderland heritage – was powerless to prevent Isak scoring his 19th club goal in all competitions this term. Fifteen minutes had passed when Harvey Barnes’s lofted pass over the top bisected James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite, leaving the ­Sweden striker sensing opportunity.

Isak had been left with quite a lot to do but he rose to the challenge admirably, proceeding to sidestep a couple of markers, most notably Branthwaite, before squeezing a perfectly calibrated shot between Pickford and post.

Small wonder Howe – an admirer of Branthwaite’s central defensive skills – is desperate to keep Isak at St James’ Park and will urge his board not to sell the centre forward to Arsenal, or anyone else, this summer.

For a while his latest goal seemed to demoralise Dyche’s initially reasonably bright side. Indeed, as darkness fell and Everton’s Muslim players were able to break their Ramadan fasts ­during a special drinks interlude, ­Newcastle fans joked that Amadou Onana, ­Abdoulaye Doucouré and Idrissa Gueye might have been better off praying.

The laughing stopped when Onana’s slick pass played the well-placed Doucouré in. Although the ensuing shot permitted Martin Dubravka to make a save when the goalkeeper should arguably have been given no chance, Everton had recovered sufficient composure to unnerve the Gallowgate End.

No matter that the first half concluded with Pickford saving Jacob Murphy’s volley smartly with his feet before tipping Isak’s rising shot over the bar for a corner, Newcastle began experiencing moments of self doubt.

Although Burn briefly believed he had doubled their advantage, VAR had other ideas, decreeing that Isak strayed offside in the preamble.

The Swede very nearly made a swift atonement but Vitaliy ­Mykolenko’s dramatic goalline clearance denied him a second goal.

Everton though very nearly equalised when the substitute James Garner struck a post and with Barnes heading wide and ­Pickford saving a shot from Bruno Guimarães, Howe could not quite relax.

His worst fears were realised when the visitors won a penalty. Paul ­Dummett had just replaced the injured Lewis Hall at left-back when the rarely used substitute grappled Ashley Young to the ground as they competed for a cross. Following another VAR check the referee, Tony Harrington, awarded the spot kick, gleefully ­converted, right footed, by Calvert-Lewin as he ended a 23-game goal drought.

With a trio of potential relegation six-pointers against Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Brentford looming on a horizon already dominated by that possible further points deduction, Dyche and ­Everton can only hope April proves kinder than widely expected.