A sparsely populated Villa Park was the venue for Newcastle’s latest Championship adventure in the late game shown live on Sky Sports.
Newcastle would line up in a familiar formation with just one up top.
STARTING XI: Sels, Yedlin (Tiote, 74), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran, Diame, Gayle (Mitrovic, 80)
After a slow start it would take until the 20 minutes before first real chance of the game was created. Some good work from Newcastle would see Gayle fire an audacious bicycle kick well over the bar.
A late challenge from Shelvey was viewed leniently by referee Christopher Kavanagh who only produced a yellow card with Newcastle players visibly concerned that the colour may be red.
On 27 minutes the breakthrough. Good work from Hayden to set Yedlin in behind the fullback would then see the USA International cross hard and low into no mans land, and with Gayle ready to pounce Villa centre half Elphick could do no more than turn the ball into his own goal. 1-0 Newcastle.
With 35 minutes on the clock Newcastle had a wonderful chance to make it 2-0, with Elphick again at fault his attempted turn back to his own goal lead to Gayle robbing him and breaking one on one with Villa keeper Gollini. With time and space to finish Dwight could do no more than find the keepers left foot, and when the ball was cycled back into the box Diame slipped when he should have at least hit the target whilst totally unmarked.
Newcastle by now were in full control with over 60% of possession and camped in the most part in Villa’s half. It seemed at that point it would only be a matter of time before the black and whites would get their second, but somehow the hosts managed to get through to half time at just 1-0 behind.
A reshuffle at half time from Villa saw them change from a 5-4-1 formation to a 4-3-3, certainly they needed to do something to change the flow of the game having been totally dominated in the first half. Newcastle fans were certainly hoping they didn’t rue those missed chances.
The hosts did start better in the second period, in fact they would go on to dominate large spells of the second half and when the ball looped into the back of Sels goal on 65 minutes only the linesman’s flag denied them an equalising goal. It would be a sign of things to come.
Next, the impressive Ayew would make a fantastic run, cutting inside two Newcastle defenders before curling a tremendous efforts against the post from all of 20 yards out. It would have been some goal.
Villa were now in full flow, and looked a totally different side from the first half. And by the time Tiote was brought on it was one way traffic again, only this time the wrong way.
And whilst Tshibola would be booked for a dive in the box when looking for a penalty it seemed inevitable that Villa would get a goal. That inevitability was realised on 88 minutes when, unmarked from a corner, Tshibola this time would score, although the keeper should have done better.
At this point it looked like there would be only one winner but Newcastle would hang on for what could be a vital point.
Not a bad result at the end of the day, but one that looked very unlikely at half time.