Goals in injury time at the end of both halves were enough to foil Bournemouth and Mike Dean’s dreams of reaching the 40 point mark this afternoon.
In front of an embarrassing 10,625 fans, many travelling the 700 mile round trip from the North East to bolster the numbers to even that meagre total, the Magpies did more than enough to justify getting at least a point from this one.
A superb Rondon free kick at the end of the first half had given Newcastle a deserved lead. But the Magpies had their wings clipped early in the second half after a penalty was converted by King before the same player struck again with just 10 minutes left.
Bournemouth should have been down to 10 men early in the first half and then a decision to give a penalty to the home side was made all the more perplexing when Newcastle had a similar claim waved away for a more blatant foul later in the game.
Not to worry, as with time ticking down Matt Ritchie would hit a wonderful equaliser to send the travelling Toon Army home with a point. Quite frankly the least Newcastle deserved.
That point keeps Newcastle 13th, but with both doomed Huddersfield and more importantly struggling Burnley both losing on a weekend of few fixtures due to the FA Cup, it may prove a crucial point in Rafa’s fight to stay in the top flight.
After the game Rafa was asked which decisions he was most unhappy with, his response… ‘too many’. And in a way that makes this one hard to take despite bing 2-1 down with 94 minutes on the clock and still managing to come back to get a point.
Bournemouth would have the referee, Mike Dean, to thank for a great deal. A horror, uncontrolled, tackle from Jefferson Lerma should have seen the Bournemouth player sent for an early bath with less than 20 minutes on the clock. And this was just the start of some questionable officiating.
Despite their frustrations, Newcastle battled on in blustery conditions and with the half ticking down to half time would finally get the breakthrough they most probably deserved. The goal stemmed from a Bournemouth corner, which was cleared only to the edge of the penalty area, but to a Newcastle United player. That man was speed merchant Miguel Almiron, and his charge up the pitch ended with him being fouled 20 yards from the opposing box. Up stepped Rondon. Goal Newcastle. A fantastic hit that gave the keeper no chance at all.
1-0 at the break then and you’d have expected Newcastle to come out just as strong second half.
Any game plan did however evaporate into the South Coast air as Fernandez was adjudged to have fouled Nathan Ake in the box following a corner to the home side. Was it a pen? You can’t really argue with it being clumsy from Fernandez, who clearly puts his arm around the Bournemouth defender. Does such a foul get given 99.9% of the time in any league in the world, you bet it doesn’t. If this is what VAR will give us then expect the average score in the Premier League to be 10-9 next season. Inconsistent at best, biased at worst!
King, of course, burred the spot kick, and despite Newcastle’s best efforts they would eventually fall behind to what seemed like a sucker punch a full 35 minutes later with the clock showing 81 minutes gone. This time Dominic Solanke was afforded far too much time in the Newcastle box, with those in black and white perhaps justified in thinking they dare not breathe on the player. His ball to King was slammed home and the home side were 2-1 up.
The mood amongst the Newcastle players, management and fans made worse as what looked like a clear pull from a Bournemouth player on Rondon had apparently been missed by all 4 officials. earlier in the half. Oh Mike Dean, your boys had sneaked a win then eh...
Well not if ex home boy Ritchie had anything to do with it! As, with just seconds left on the clock, it was Newcastle’s turn to sneak a last minute goal. A fine move set Yedlin away on the right wing and his cross found Ritchie 10 yards out and level with the edge of the 6 yard box to smash a left foot volley past the despairing Boruc. And no amount of the officials all looking at each other for a reason not to give it would provide any reason, rightly of course, and the away fans and players were left jubilant. Even Matt Ritchie forgot he wasn’t supposed to celebrate for a moment… Good lad…
A point that could, and perhaps should, have been more. But when you’re 2-1 down with 94 on the clock the injustices somehow seem to pale into insignificance in that moment.
Another point gained. Another point closer.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame (Shelvey, 83), Hayden, Perez (Atsu, 72), Almiron (Muto, 82), Rondon