Newcastle Untied got their campaign off to a terrible start with a 1-0 loss away to last seasons Championship relegation candidates Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The result could have been very different had the referee given any one of three penalty appeals from Newcastle, two looking ’stone wall’ penalties, however as the Mags would be the better side for most of the game but ultimately come away with nothing.
In fairness, other than the penalty appeals and one fantastic chance that Ritchie drove straight at the keeper Rafa’s men created very little and showed a worrying lack of creativity and threat up front despite a great deal of effort.
STARTING XI: Sels, Janmaat, Hanley, Lascelles, Dummett, Anita, Colback (Aarons, 61), Hayden (Shelvey, 77), Ritchie, Perez (Armstrong, 70), Gayle
Newcastle started the game with a slightly unfamiliar look with Perez playing off Gayle up front and with Anita on the right flank whilst Ritchie started on the left. Clearly the plan was to keep things tight and rely on the supposed extra quality Newcastle would boast with Perez, Gayle and Ritchie in the last third to at least take home a point and most probably take all three. Not quite how things would transpire!
Despite having plenty of possession throughout the game Newcastle wouldn’t really create an awful lot in front of goal, although they had looked comfortable until on the stoke of half time Fulham new boy Smith would head in unmarked from a Fulham set piece, something we continue to look vulnerable from.
Changes in the second half, including the introduction of Aarons on the left and the switch of Ritchie to the right did make Newcastle look more dangerous with the latter blasting a glorious chance straight at a thankful Button in the Fulham goal late on although the Newcastle fans will focus on two horrific decisions form the referee.
The first was before the Fulham goal, when a Ritchie cross hit Tunnicliffe’s hand in the penalty area in clear sight of the referee. The two players were at least 10 yards from each other the Fulham players hand was above his head for no reason. Stone wall indeed. The second claim would be in the second half and would be just as blatant but both would go unpunished by the ref.
Had Newcastle created more we may be feeling a little more hard done to after the game. The truth of the matter is Rafa’s post match assessment of ‘not good enough’ was spot on.
Welcome back to the Championship lads.