Wolves (a) Premier League
One of Newcastle's most cleverly-worked goals of the season began with a Wolves
throw in their own half on their right flank that the visitors pressed well.
Matt D Sean Longstaff collected possession and his instant forward pass to the
left hand channel was chested by Dwight Gayle into the path of the overlapping
Joao Moutinho's corner from the right side was inadvertantly flicked on at the
near post by substitute
Florian Lejeune and dropping for Leander Dendoncker to poke in from 10 yards
out, with his alleged marker Federico Fernandez nowhere near.
Full time: Wolves 1 Newcastle 1
Steve Bruce said:
I measured the two Longstaffs today and (Miguel) Almiron, theyíve ran a million miles.
To ask them to go again on Tuesday is the same thing, you run the risk.
"I couldnít risk (Matt) Ritchie and Andy Carroll because theyíve just come back. Ritchie played half an hour (against Rochdale) but trained all week, so always in our mind was Tuesday. Thatís one on the team sheet for Tuesday but heís been out for months so we have to make sure heís ready.
ďI will not just bring in players that donít make us any better. We will not just see people coming in because we have 10, 12 players injured. Who knows, in two or three weeks, we might have them all back, and then what do you do with the ones you bring in?Ē
"Iíve waited for him for two and a half months because heís been injured, then the team has done OK so heís found it a struggle to get in.
ďIíve started him twice in the last four or five games! He was excellent today. Heís not going anywhere, itís quite simple."
"Newcastle, like I say, were organised. It was difficult to find the lines and spaces, but we tried really hard until the end. The Newcastle goalkeeper made a couple of saves, and had a fantastic game that allowed them to stay in it.
"It was not the best one, but the character and willingness was there.
"We produced good saves. But we should improve on the final touch. It was difficult as Newcastle did not want to go for the game. It was very tight, and we struggled there, but we created a couple of good chances, so we have to improve.
"Iím not happy because we didnít perform like we all wish, like we expect and should do. I always want perfection and sometimes days like this happen.
"Itís obvious that we must bring players. Today was not the best, it was difficult, not many spaces, but the final delivery should be better.
"We are working and hopefully things work out and we can solve it. We need solutions, we need more than specific position, players that can bring us different situations, that can help us in these kind of games.Ē
On the whistle report from Molineux for Newcastle: one shot, one goal, one point....three injuries.
For the second successive league game, United were forced to make a pair of enforced changes during the first half and left another player on at reduced power for over an hour.
We're not sure whether they returned to the North East by team bus or air ambulance...
Despite the selection issues posed by a sick list and those later problems though, a committed and gutsy display was enough to earn a thoroughly deserved point for the Magpies, Miguel Almiron's fine goal and Martin Dubravka's prowess pivotal in halting a run of three successive league defeats.
There were four changes to the side at Rochdale; a shortage of full backs seeing Isaac Hayden swap one unfamiliar role for another; switching from central defence at Spotland to right back here.
Declared fit to start were Jetro Willems, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett and Dwight Gayle but after scoring a fine team goal from their first attack, things soon began to unravel again.
First to drop out (quite literally) was Paul Dummett, replaced by Florian Lejeune, whose breather on the bench proved to be short-lived. Within a minute of that Wolves levelled from a set piece and next to succumb was Gayle - halting what had been a brief but profitable partnership with Almiron; Gayle's improvised assist for Miggy's goal his second vital intervention in that fine flowing move.
Perhaps mindful of the calamity of the Leicester game when the third and final substitution was made at half time only for a further casualty to be incurred seconds after the restart, groin strain victim Joelinton remained on the field after and carried before making way for Andy Carroll late on.
Given that set of circumstances, it's hardly surprising that United adopted a safety-first policy and successfully held on for a point that was achieved with rather more ease than might be expected.
The pace of Adama Traore brought danger to the visitors and excitement for home followers in a manner not dissimilar to Allan Saint-Maximins (remember him?). Thankfully though he faded after the break, as a Wolves side who have played 37 competitive games this season lacked a spark.
By contrast, we're on our knees after a paltry 24 outings - although Bruce was quick to dismiss any talk that training methods or sports science had changed under his watch. If that is the case, then maybe the transfer window that ended in August wasn't quite as "remarkable" as the Head Coach claimed and the soft tissue damage echoes the soft underbelly of the first team and U23 squads.
Opinion was divided here last season as to whether Dubravka was impeded as he claimed when dropping the ball to concede a late leveller. However his contribution was all positive today, making excellent saves including a remarkable stop with his left leg to deny Raul Jimenez from close range.
Returning to the ground that he debuted on last February meanwhile, Almiron more than earned his money all over the field during the afternoon as he tracked back and tackled with relish. Continuing the "all hands to the pump" theme, Matty Longstaff hooked the ball clear from in front of the line.
That evident effort was recognised at full time by the travelling support, appreciative of what they had witnessed and aware that this was potentially a decent and timely point.
United ended the weekend thirteenth with 26 points, five clear of third bottom side Aston Villa and with Bournemouth and Norwich City continuing to nose dive as revitalised Watford do the opposite.
In terms of our own tally, that's five places and eight points better than at the same time last season, after which we went on to claim 27 more points from the remaining 16 games.
One senses that is less achievable in 2020 though, given both the scoring and fitness concerns and the fact we're not misfiring quite enough for the Ashley disaster fund to be touched this month.