Honours even at St James Park as Villa equalise late to save a point after Dwight Gayle's opener
Newcastle United 1-1 Aston Villa
Honours even at St James Park in a pretty even game between a Newcastle side all but safe from the drop and a Villa side doing all they can to save themselves.
A late goal from substitute Dwight Gayle looked to have secured all three point for the Magpies, but an equaliser from El Mohamady five minutes from time rescued a point for the Villans.
It had been all square at half time in the evening sunshine at St James Park with both sides having at least half chances to talk about at the break.
Villa had the best of the opening exchanges and will rue their own inadequacies in front of goal with Trezeguet missing a glorious change in the first 10 minutes. One of a number of decent chances for the visitors.
For Newcastle not so much. Saint-Maximin again looking the biggest threat, whilst a decent bit of skill from Joelinton was snuffed out by a great block by Mings.
But in the second half a throw in on the right was squared by Carroll to Dwight Gayle who did the rest. But with the clock ticking down El Mohamady nodded in a near post corner to salvage a point for Aston Villa as their struggle to beat the drop.
Steve Bruce had picked an unchanged team for this one following the 3-0 victory against high flying Sheffield United on Sunday afternoon.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Rose, Hayden (Bentaleb, 86), Shelvey, Ritchie (Gayle, 66), Almiron (Lazaro, 85), Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Carroll, 63)
There was the now customary knee taken before the game with the ‘black lives matter’ campaign impeccably observed, unlike the scenes at City on Monday.
The best of the early chances would fall to Villa who started comfortably in the first 15 minutes. A wonderful cross finding Trezeguet who really should have done much more than blasting over the bar from 6 yards out when totally unmarked.
Newcastle did start to settle into the game as the first half moved on however but space was at a premium, especially for Saint-Maximin who Villa seemed to double up on every time he was on the ball.
When United did break through, notably with Joelinton wriggling through, the Villa defence stood strong.
There would be a late push from the Magpies just before the half time whilst, but a succession of corners were well defended with a number of strikes at goal blocked. And when Ritchie did manage to get one as far as the keeper it was well saved by Nyland.
0-0 then at half time.
Into the second half and Newcastle started to turn the screw. Again Saint-Maximin at the heart of everything good.
First his brilliant turn allowed Manquillo free and his cross was eventually recycled to Almiron, who’s shot was deflected wide. Then his own mazy run ended in a fierce shot that whistled just wide. Much better from the black and whites.
Villa were looking dangerous on the break with United’s back line needing to keep their highest level of concentration against eh threat of Grealish and McGinn.
Newcastle were forced into a substitution on 66 minutes with Ritchie limping off and Bruce opting for Dwight Gayle as the man to come on. And within a minute his introduction would pay dividends. A throw on the Newcastle right was dropped into the feet of fellow sub Andy Carroll who’s simple ball into the box left Villa all at sea allowing Gayle to take a touch and fire past the Villa keeper. Lovely pass. Great finish.
But with the clock ticking down Villa got themselves an equaliser.
This time it was a corner on 83 minutes. Newcastle seemingly switching off and when El Mohamady got across his man to flick the ball on target neither Shelvey nor Dubravka could keep the ball out.
The first goal that Newcastle have conceded at home since New Years day.
And that was that. A late salvo from the Birmingham side was not enough to break down the Newcastle defence again so the points were shared.
So with just 7 games left this season, Newcastle now sit on 39 points and you’d have to expect that even that should be enough for the Magpies to be a Premier League side again next campaign.