Sean Longstaff marked his senior debut for the club by rifling home a
left-footed 14 yard shot via the post following Matt Ritchie's dinked cross
from the right side of the box. 1-0
Saints 0 Magpies 1
Kevin Toner fouled Dwight Gayle in the box and Christian Atsu
converted the resultant penalty in front of the travelling contingent in the
Cowshed End 2-0
Full time: Saints 0
About the only thing
he will be signing....
Rafa Benitez said after the game:
always important to have young players involved, It's an opportunity.
"I have to be fair, because Callum (Roberts)
and Victor (Fernandez) were playing as full-backs and they are
wingers, but we needed to be sure that we had enough legs in each position. They
"You will ask me about (Sean) Longstaff as he scored a goal, and
(Josef) Yarney did well in defence also. It was positive for them and us,
because we gave them an opportunity, and they did well.
"The main thing with young players is that they have to be focused and
humble and keep working, and he (Longstaff) did that.
Of rather greater consequence though were his comments to journalists
"We have to fix a
target to stay up. That is it. Concentrate on staying up, and after that, see
where. It will be more difficult
than last year. You donít know, because we finished tenth this year, we can be
in the middle next season ó because everyone is spending.
"The reality is the Premier League is
difficult and every year the others spend money and bring new players. Fulham,
Wolves are spending. Huddersfield, Brighton everyone is spending making it more
difficult. So the target will be to stay up.
"100%, it is harder to stay up this
season. Fulham and Wolves have come up and have big money.
ďWhen you talk about the market, you know
what offers they are making. They will be stronger at the beginning than
Huddersfield and Brighton. Brighton and Huddersfield are already in the Premier
League, they are spending some money. Then you see West Ham, they are spending
"(we need to) see if we can find some players at the right price. It
is not ideal but we will try to manage the best way possible.
"I was expecting maybe something
different but we will manage what it going on and try to be sure that we bring
the best players possible with the conditions we have, and try to improve the
"I hope I can still strengthen the squad. I have been trying hard for two
months to be sure we have players to bring on loan.
"If you donít act quickly then you lose the opportunity, and the next
player is more difficult, and the next maybe doesnít have the same quality.
"I have to just concentrate on bringing the best players for the squad. I
donít do the numbers. I donít control the numbers. I know my numbers, but it
is not my job to do accounts. The owner decides the money available and that is
"Mike (Ashley) said Ďevery last pennyí was available in the
Press. I donít do the numbers, so I donít know exactly what it means. We are
fine in terms of profit. Maybe you have to ask this question to Lee Charnley. He
has the numbers.
"I am trying to do my best in these conditions, thatís what I can say. We
were talking about the situation at this time. After, we were talking about
numbers and the possibility of an extension.
"But I donít think an extension is an excuse for anything. If you sign a
one-year extension, what does that mean for the players you sign on a five-year
contract? Itís nothing. Itís not an issue.
"A lot of clubs have managers, they finish a contract but still they
improve the squad to be sure they are better. Historically, you see the spending
of different clubs and this one. I donít think itís an issue.
"But I am trying to bring the best players for the club. But we have a
scouting department and everybody is working together.
"Still, I donít think itís an issue with my contract. I told Mike
and Lee and Justin (Barnes - Sports Direct employee with strong influence in
"They know that, if we do the right things, then I am keen to stay here for
five years or whatever, but they have to do things in the way that, for me as a
football professional, there is a way to do things and we have to be sure that
we do that.
"If you want to sign an extension for a lot of years, the main thing and
the first one has to be the Academy, for example. Then all these things, you
have everything in place.
"I am really pleased with the fans, city, the atmosphere at the games, the
staff are professionals, everyone. We have all the potential to grow and to be a
top side, a proper top side.
"I need to talk with Lee (about when contractual negotiations will
resume). The last conversation was: ĎOh, we can talkí, but I think it is
more important to be sure that we do the right things now and then after we have
plenty of time to talk about that.
"Again I would say that my contract is not an issue. I am doing my
best and a lot of managers, they finish a contract and still the clubs are
investing and trying to improve the squad.
"Forget about [if I will get more money if I sign a new contract]. We have
to concentrate on keeping the same atmosphere that we had last year, a team that
really cares and worked really hard. And then trying to improve the squad, bring
in more players and have more competition.
"I read your newspapers and I know that the fans are clever; our fans, they
understand the situation. Everybody is expecting that if we can compete, can be
stronger, then Rafa will be pleased and then is happy here. I donít think that
the fans donít know the situation.
ďI will try to do my best and then hopefully, in a few weeks, things can be
better and then we can keep talking. I think they understand clearly the
situation, We will see at the end of the window how well we did. We are working
to add players to improve the squad.
"Every manager wants something more. I
am happy with the three players we have signed. We have more or less a similar
team to what we had last year. Now we have to keep growing and improving. I have
tried to do my best - but we will see later on."
Newcastle began their pre-season fixtures with a comfortable victory
their League of Ireland hosts at Richmond Park on Tuesday,
20 of the 27 players who had participated in a training camp at nearby
Carton House featuring on a fine night in the Dublin suburbs.
However the on-field action became almost incidental within 48 hours,
overshadowed by comments from Rafa Benitez to media reporters hours before
In a no-holds barred interview, the Magpies boss revealed his frustrations
with the club's continued inability to deliver on their promises,
providing a downbeat assessment of what next season holds for a side who
finished tenth last time round: becalmed at best - or battling a rise tide
Back to the pitch though and a low-key opening saw Joselu shoot narrowly wide
minutes - by which time Florian Lejeune had become the first player to kick
the ball out of the ground, his hoofed clearance ending up in the river
that flows behind one terrace.
On what looked like an excellent playing surface, neither side mustered much in the way of
attacking threat until the 41st minute, when debutant Sean Longstaff
rifled home a
left-footed 14 yard shot via the post following Matt Ritchie's dinked cross
from the right.
in their last seven league games, but with the advantage of not playing this
game in close proximity to a competitive one (unlike our previous Irish
opponents Shamrock and Bohs), the hosts came close to levelling before the
break when Simon Madden colliding with Karl Darlow.
The St. Pat's player had only recently arrived on the field as a
replacement for an injured colleague and left his mark on goalkeeper Karl
he tried in vain to guide the ball goalwards.
Looking to be in some discomfort, Darlow made way for Matz Sels after the
break in what was one of nine planned changes; rookie duo Longstaff and Josef Yarney
the sole survivors.
The result was a
more energetic and impressive 45 minutes, Jonjo Shelvey to the fore
as the black and whites belatedly found their shooting boots and
Dwight Gayle added much-needed forward threat, shaving the post with one
St. Pat's - featuring ex-Magpie reserve Lee Desmond - struggled with the pace
of Christian Atsu in what was his comeback game since undergoing knee surgery
and one or two keen tackles ensued.
The Ghanaian twice saw goalbound shots blocked, goalkeeper Barry Murphy denied
Adam Armstrong and Gayle and DeAndre Yedlin both sent efforts whistling
narrowly over the crossbar.
A low-key return for Kenedy became rather more noticeable with 11 minutes
left, as he forced his way into a shooting position before leaving the
goal frame shaking after hitting it with a howitzer.
The Brazilian looked set to mark his second spell at the club with a goal,
when former Aston Villa defender (and colleague of Ciaran Clark) Kevin Toner fouled Gayle in the box on 86
Expecting to take the resultant spot kick, Atsu had other
ideas and held on to the ball while arguing his case - even concealing it up
his shirt. He got his way and duly sent a left footed shot down the middle of the goal as
Murphy dived out of the way, giving the scoreline a more respectable
This was the expected positive start to pre-season, with the hosts never really
threatening any upset despite the United defence having a makeshift look at
times - both Victor Fernandez and Callum Roberts deputising at full back.
The Magpies now prepare for Tuesday's trip to Championship side Hull City - by which time
there will be barely a fortnight until the earlier-than-usual transfer window
They may have boosted his approval ratings and succeeded in stirring some
supports into reprising familiar anti-Ashley sentiments, but Rafa's comments
will do nothing to break the current impasse between him and the owner over a contract extension in
return for more transfer funds.
Unless there's a radical rethink from Shirebrook, it seems inevitable
that Rafa will remain in post until his contract concludes next June - doing his
level best to keep the club in the top flight, before putting his glasses in his
pocket and walking away.
What has to be questioned though is just why he went on the record again -
and was allowed to do so - in the knowledge that confrontation of this nature
with this owner consistently backfires.
Spoiling for a fight, playing to the gallery or simply reaching the end of his
tether - take your pick.
We're sorry to report that Ashington Mag Clayton
Elliott passed away in hospital while tonight's game
was taking place - condolences to friends & family.