How? Just how??
If we fall short at the end of the season this will certainly be a pivotal game that helped seal our destiny. With no striker recruited ahead of this deadline day clash it would be left to the old guard and one new face to try and bring home the points. Oh how we missed a proven finisher.
There can be no complaints about the way we played, not the shape of the team, nor the tactics, not even the effort and endeavour of the players. Nope - this was was decided on class alone, are rather a lack of it in one key area.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Atsu (Murphy, 64), Diame, Merino, Kenedy (Ritchie, 72), Perez (Gayle, 85), Joselu
Newcastle dominated this one for all but a costly and gutting last 4 minutes.
More shots on target
More shots off target
There was some quality on display, most notably from the one new signing that could start the game. For Kenedy showed just what a little extra can do in a game such as this. Lively, quick feet, even the odd bit of ‘appropriate’ showboating got the crowd up and at it form the start.
And the Brazilian almost gave his new side the lead after just 17 minutes. A lovely shift onto his left on the edge of the ‘D’ allowed him to majestically curl a shot onto the foot of the Burnley right hand post. So unlucky. And to make matters worse the rebound could only be helped back into he keepers arms by Atsu when he could have done so much better.
When, on 34 minutes, Newcastle finally got that penalty that they’d been waiting so long for the rustiness from he spot proved both predictable as it was painful. Joselu didn’t wait for any debate as he took the responsibility for the kick. That’s where the confidence began and ended. The resultant spot kick was awful. A comfortable height and not in the corner, as they say, making the job for Pope in the Burnley goal all too easy.
The penalty itself had been won by Kenedy of course. His neat turn completely wrong footing Bardsley leaving the referee with the easiest of decisions.
From Burnley there was nothing as Newcastle mounted wave after wave of attack with the visitors handing on.
In midfield Newcastle were dominant. And quite frankly who this Diame kid is that we’ve found, well, we need to keep him playing like that. Strong, direct, controlled aggression, lovely skill and passing that would make Shelvey green at times - barely recognisable from he player we’ve seen for more than a season now. And with Merino imperious next to him, with style and panache, they looked, and were, a real handful.
With the score at 0-0 at half time thought the home fans were starting to fear that the breakthrough would never come.
The relief was palpable then when on 65 minutes a corner from, you’ve guessed it, Kenedy was headed in by Jamaal Lascelles.
And then, with one match defining moment already under his belt after missing the penalty, Joselu would miss another. A quick break would see Newcastle with three on two. But with the ball ending at the Spaniards feet following good work by substitute Murphy, the big lad would tamely prod wide with the goal gaping. What a miss.
And how costly it would prove.
As with other half chances coming and going for the Mags up would pop Vokes with a header on the 85th minutes that would be tipped onto the bar by Darlow only to find the ball come back of the woodwork, onto the back of his head, and into the net.
You couldn’t make it up.
One can only hope that the arrival of Slimani, announced soon after the game, will be a turning point for our wasteful displays. Let’s hope it’s not too late.
A significant mention for Gallowgate flags too after this one. Their display may end up being their last given the message clearly aimed at the Newcastle owner. At the very least we can expect no more banners with words. The evidence on the pitch, the lack of quality that is, just goes to prove Keegan, who’s words were emblazoned on this banner, was right.
After the game another local hero, Wor Al, tweeted his disgust at the owner too. An average of £4.5m spent per season under Ashley. Where is the money Mike. When will things ever change?