On a day when everyone connected with the club did their bit to show just what Newcastle United was all about you could count on the players to let us down.
After last weeks disappointing result and performance against Fulham the thought of a home game, a full house, flags and all would surely see the Mags kick start their season. But whilst off the pitch everything was thoroughly awesome (a huge congratulations to @gallowgateflags), on the pitch it was a case of ‘same again’ as whilst NUFC would dominate possession a lack of cutting edge and mistakes at the back would cost us dear.
STARTING XI: Sels, Janmaat (Armstrong, 83), Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett, Anita, Hayden, Shelvey, Aarons (Ritchie, 45), Diame (Perez, 75), Gayle
Before the match the campaign for fans to turn up early in support of the GallowgateFlags project was a complete success with a quite fantastic atmosphere and the sight of what seemed like thousands of flags. Just brilliant.
Onto the pitch then and Newcastle almost made the perfect start.as a floated ball into the box saw Gayle lose his market and head agonisingly wide having looped a header over the keeper who could only watch on in hope.
From that point on Newcastle would, in the most part, control the game. However, much like at Fulham a week earlier possession alone would prove to be not enough.
Starting with Aarons on the left and Anita on the right it would be an extremely frustrating first half in particular with little to show for all the time we would have with the ball. Time and time again the ball would be passed square or backwarrds and always too slowly.
And the warning signs were there for all to see that Huddersfield would make us pay for our inept play. And so it proved when, in injury time at the end of the first half, Nahki Wells would guide a shot in off the post after being left too much space in the box.
Whatever was said at half time seemed to do the trick, at least in terms of our desire and urgency. And with Ritchie replacing a lacklustre Aarons for the second half Newcastle finally had some real quality down the right flank.
The longer the game went on however the more and more is looked like we’d not get our breakthrough with the excellent away following from Huddersfield in fantastic spirits and cheering every pass.
In the end it would take a penalty for Newcastle to finally get the chance to equalise. And after missing out on what appeared to be two ’stone wall’ penalties a week earlier it was pleasing to see the ref make the correct decision after a blatant handball in the Huddersfield box.
Up would step Gayle, only to see his penalty saved by Ward. Fortunately for the new Newcastle number 9 the save would rebound right to his forehead in front of goal and the resulting nod would see us back in the game at 1-1.
Newcastle now looked fully in control and almost went in front after a great cross by Dummett was met at the far post by Ritchie. Unfortunately for our number 11 he would see his header go agonisingly wide when really he should have scored.
Que the customary mistake at the back for Newcastle. And when first Mbemba failed to deal with a ball in the right back position and then Lascelles and Sels were caught out of position, all that was left was for Payne to fire home and send the travelling fans into ecstasy.
And whilst Newcastle would push in the 10 minutes now left the game had gone as yet again we could not find either the guile or brute force to create anything decent in front of goal.
Plenty of thinking to be done then for Rafa and his management team. Certainly Ritchie and Shelvey can look at themselves this morning with some deal of pride in how the played. For most of the rest of the team it’s a case of ‘must do better’ I’m afraid.
Perhaps good then that we only have to wait a few days until our next game, this time at home to Reading. Although we will still need to do a lot better if we are finally going to pick up our first points of the season.