Not a good day at the office.
A missing Spaniard in midfield, with Rafa confirming Merino would be out with an inured back for at least a couple of weeks, would not be the news NUFC fans wanted before kick off.
Perhaps an early sign of what was to come…
STARTING XI: Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles (Clark, 55), Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu (Murphy, 82), Gayle, Joselu (Perez, 68)
To be fair Newcastle Untied were uncharacteristically attack minded from the off, perhaps knowing that this, of all days, was a day to go for a game.
The addition of Gayle from the start, in place of the recently hapless Perez, was a welcome sight and the team seemed intent on taking the game to Bournemouth.
With Joselu looking his strong but ineffective self it was always likely that a goal would have to come from another source. And it could, indeed should, have done so. On 16 minutes ex Bournemouth man Ritchie cut onto his stronger left foot and curled a lovely effort onto the keepers right hand post. And whilst the rebound was tapped home by Gayle his effort was ruled out for offside. Replays later showed Gayle was level when the shot was taken and the goal should have stood.
Efforts from Shelvey, Gayle and a customary header from Lascelles all went begging in the first half with the visitors lucky to come off all square at the break.
But whilst Bournemouth looked like they’d been chasing shadows in the first half they came back after the break like a different side.
And although Newcastle did fashion a couple of decent half chances it was the visitors who were now on top.
An early injury in the first half to Lascelles wasn’t what Rafa needed but for once his instinct in his other substitutions seemed to let him down. With Perez coming on for Joselu and Gayle moving up top Newcastle seemed to lose the presence they’d had up top. And whilst there may have been a plan to introduce the our big Serb late on, that options was taken away from he Newcastle boss when what looked like a groin injury to Atsu lead to the introduction of Murphy. Quite frankly, the less said about his brief appearance the better!
So all that was left was for Newcastle to conceded an injury time goal that would see Eddie Howe’s men leave with all 3 points.
Deserved certainly on the second half display. Not for the overall performance as a draw would have been fair of a game that was, as they say, of two halved.