Wolves 1-1 Newcastle United
United battle to a gain a point at Moline with both goals coming in the first half of a tough game against Wolves that was, in the main, devoid of class but stopped the rot of three straight losses in the league.
A great start for Newcastle United saw Miggy Almiron score his second goal in two games, and third in six games, after some neat play between Gayle and Willems allowed Almiron to strike beautifully into the keepers top left corner after just 7 minutes at Molineux.
But it wouldn’t take long for business as usual to be resumed for United. First an injury, with Dummett having to be withdrawn for Lejeune. And then Lejeune being involved in some shoddy defending that could have resulted in the Magpies conceding a penalty but instead lead to a corner that would eventually be swept into Dubravka’s goal by Dendoncker.
Whomever as put an injury curse of United has done one hell of a job mind! As before the half hour Newcastle had to use another substitute, this time Gayle going down clutching a hamstring and having to be replaced by Atsu.
But Wolves couldn't turn their greater possession into goals in the second half, and neither could United find a way to a second goal during their rare forays into the Wolves half.
1-1 the final score and probably a fare result on balance.
Dwight Gayle came into the first team with Steve Bruce saying ’as a proven goalscorer, he gets his chance’. There were also welcome returns from knocks or injuries for Clark and Willems with both Longstaff brothers playing in the centre of the park.
The change in personnel meant an unfamiliar position for Hayden to was played as a make shift right wing back. And with Gayle playing at the top of the attacking three it was also going to be critical that the diminutive striker was well supported by Almiron and the out of favour Joelinton.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Willems, Fernandez, Dummett (Lejeune, 11), Clark, Hayden, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Almiron, Gayle (Atsu, 28), Joelinton (Carroll, 78)
United went into the game without a loss at Molineux in 5 outings. The fortunes at both clubs have changed significantly over recent times however. Wolves going into the game with European aspirations (again) and just two points off 5th. Newcastle just 5 points from relegation again after a poor run of results facing fans to look over their shoulders again rather than upwards.
And it was the perfect start for the visitors after Wolves, with some sloppy play, gifted the ball to Newcastle and after some smart work from Gayle, Almiron was set free to fire a great effort into the top corner. Brilliant from Miggy who now has two in two.
The build up was slick, with Gayle exchanging passes with Willems before setting
At the other end the biggest concern was yet another injury for Newcastle with Dummett only lasting 11 minutes before having to be withdrawn and replaced by Lejeune.
And it didn’t take long for the new entrant to make his usual contribution. Not quite as bad as in recent games but it was a Lejeune sliced clearance that put his defence in all sorts of bother which, after a check for a penalty for Wolves, ended with a corner to the home side. But some poor marking at the resultant set piece allowed Dendoncker to sweep home.
The goal seemed to turn the game after Newcastle had started extremely brightly, with Traore growing into the game minute by minute.
For Newcastle it was very much the Almiron show. Crucial tackles, bright and direct at the other end and always a danger.
Yet more disruption for United as next Dwight Gayle would go down with a hamstring injury. Atsu replacing the striker. You couldn’t make it up. A change in formation followed with Bruce moving to a 4-5-1 to accommodate the changes in players.
Next, Dubravka was called into action to make a superb save from Jimenez with his foot after the Wolves player heads for goal. Jimenez and Traore threatened to grab another goal for the home side before the break but a combination of some poor final passing and desperate defending managed to stave off those few chances created on the break, allowing United to literally limp to half time all square.
1-1 at the break.
Into the second half and United were lucky not to be behind within moments. Traore once more the creator as after drifting past Willems he whipped in a great cross to allow Neto to strike at goal, only for Matty Longstaff to get back and hook off the line.
At the other end neat work from Almiron, Willems and Matty Longstaff were at least causing Wolves some problems with a good spell of possession without really creating much in terms of chances.
Newcastle were at least taking the game to the visitors, and getting stuck to a few meaty (or occasionally mistimed) challenges, to keep the hosts honest.
But as the game drifted into the final 15 minutes the home side started to turn the screw.
Dubravka once more to the rescue with an outstanding save from a Neto header once more. Not only saving the initial effort but the follow up effort before Newcastle could scramble the ball away.
The games once more poses some serious questions about both the fitness regime at the clubs and the depth of the squad. Both the Dummett and Gayle injuries look like soft tissue injuries that could leave both players out for some time.
It remains to be seen if Bruce will be backed in the transfer market this window but will be more desperate than ever to bolster his thread bare squad before the month is out.