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Everton 1-0 Newcastle United

No 5 wins in a row then after what was a pretty dire away day at Goodison Park.

The defeat did little to dampen the spirits of the travelling black and white hordes though who were in full voice throughout who literally had to be marched out of the ground at the end as their continued support of Rafa and his team whilst poking run at ‘that lot down the road’ looked to be heading for a lock in!

The Toon Army would also get their wish in seeing Slimani from the start, something most wanted to see as thoughts turn to building the squad for Premier League football again next season.

STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy, 79), Shelvey (Merino, 83), Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Slimani (Gayle, 63)

The first half was nothing short of dire. Thoughts that this one might be some sort of free flowing display of attacking football were always going to misguided. Rafa at least has the excuse of not having the money to spend on the playing staff to create such a spectacle. ‘Sam’ has no such excuse!

The highlight of the half would be one efforts smashed over the bar from close range by Everton, with the closest Newcastle would come would be a couple of misplaced passes with players well placed to break.

Yes, the first half really was that poor!

At least in the second period the game would open up for spells, mainly due to the early second half goal from Walcott for the Toffees. Even the goal wouldn’t be a thing of beauty, a long ball would result in Theo picking up scraps before firing high into the roof of the next and over Dubravka for his first goal since January.

Newcastle never really got going. Shelvey, in particular, was extremely quiet in front of Southgate and will have done his chances of a call up for England no favours. Wide men Kenedy and Ritchie both worked very hard but produced little. Newcastle’s best player undoubtedly Diame as he continues his Indian Summer this season.

For all their struggles the Magpies could and should have been level however. First Perez couldn’t make is personal 4 goals in 4 games as his first touch let him down before firing over when well placed.

Gayle, a late substitute, also could have made a mark when he blasted over with his first touch of the ball after a Ritchie corner. Newcastle could have also had a penalty when the ball clearly hi Phil Jagielka’s arm only for Robert Madley to wave Newcastle’s protests away and then seemingly spend the next 5 minutes systematically apologising to each Newcastle player in turn for missing the incident. Poor.

Another ten minutes and it seemed like Newcastle would find a way through as the pressure mounted and with the home crowd getting more and more edgy.

No joy however and it’s on to West Brom at home next.

And that’s it. No relegation worries, just mid-table mediocrity. What a beautiful thing!

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