Newcastle United 1-1 Watford
An opportunity to climb into the top half of a fledgling table was passed up by a Newcastle United side who looked bereft of ideas and quality up front.
A tap in from Hughes on just 80 seconds would give the visitors the perfect start. Watford had started the game at the bottom of the table without a point to their name and will remain anchored to the bottom after this one.
In an open encounter there were a number of chances at both ends but it would take another goal from Fabian Schar to get anything from the game for United. Schar popping up in the box to side foot home from a Hayden knock down.
For all Newcastle’s effort thought there was little by way of real threat up front. Almiron in particular looked bereft of confidence and spent most of the game off-side. Joelinton too, largely ineffectual up top.
The points shared then at St James Park, and you can’t help feel this will end up being a significant dropped 2 come the end of the season when the opportunity was there to take all three.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Krafth (Manquillo, 77), Schar (Fernandez, 84), Lascelles, Dummett, Willems, Hayden, Longstaff, Atsu (Muto, 81), Almiron, Joelinton
Just 80 seconds is all it would take for any thoughts of an easy day for United to evaporate. Cleverley’s shot deflected into the path of Hughes to side foot home.
Newcastle should have been level within 3 minutes. Atsu managing to get free and his cross evading everyone to find Almiron in the centre of the box only for the Newcastle man to full his lines with a heavy touch that bounced into the grateful arms of the Watford keeper Foster.
Bruce’s men would gradually get on top in the first half as his team looked to find an equaliser, but too often the home side played narrow, and when they did get the ball wide any service into the middle would invariably find its way into a box without a single black and white shirt in attendance to make anything of it. The black and whites passing too left a lot to be desired.
Newcastle would have the ball in the back of the net on 36 minutes when Almiron raced onto a Joelinton through ball only to see his effort ruled out for offside.
United also had a couple of shouts for penalties waved away, neither apparently being clear enough to warrant a VAR challenge.
The momentum was with the home side now. And on 42 minutes they would get the goal that their efforts deserved. The goalscorer Fabian Schar side footing home from he edge of the 8 yard box after the Hornets failed to deal with Kraft’s cross. Quite what Schar was doing up there, who knows, but it was very much a needed intervention.
1-1 then at half time.
Into the second half and a decent early chance for Atsu but his effort could would be comfortably gathered by Foster.
To be fair to the visitors though, they certainly came out the faster of the two teams after the break, with Almiron or Atsu looking the most likely to hurt the visitors with their pace causing no end of concerns for Watford.
A shot from Hayden would be well saved by Foster next as United started to turn the second half tide on the hour mark. If only Atsu had slightly longer legs he too could have slid in to convert a good move from United.
By the end of the half though it was end to end with both teams sensing the points were there fore the taking. Indeed Dubravka, having had a relatively quiet game, being called into action with a couple of late saves to deny Watford the third vital goal.
Neither team would find a way through however and the points would be shared.
An attendance of just 44,157 continues to show that there seems to be some momentum behind that pre-season statements from fans who are committed to stay away from St James Park. That total over 3,000 down on the Arsenal game and certainly effected by a reduced number of away fans.