Newcastle 1-1 Everton

Everton won a valuable and potentially priceless point from an enthralling second half display at St.James’s Park, as having fallen behind in the first half, a treble change on the hour mark revitalised the Blues and they eventually got their reward with a late penalty converted by Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Hot on the heels of the disappointing performance and result at Bournemouth, Everton traipsed north to Tyneside to face a Newcastle side who enhanced their chances of European football next season by recovering from a 1-3 deficit to beat West Ham on Saturday, despite a lengthening injury list and the loss of Anthony Gordon to a second yellow card in added-on time.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe was delighted with his sides resilience and praised the contribution of Harvey Barnes who scored two goals after coming on as a second half substitute. Barnes joined the Toon in a £38million transfer from Leicester but, has been troubled by injuries and Howe commented, “We have missed him this season and he would have given us quality wherever he played. He is a goalscorer and they are so valuable, and his two finishes today were of the highest quality. Of course, the last one was memorable and will always be remembered – and what a finish it was. That’s the quality he has.”

With the game against Everton coming so quickly, Howe had to deal with another injury after Jamal Lascelles limped out of the West Ham game inside 20 minutes, and with Anthony Gordon suspended following his red card dismissal, Howe’s squad was stretched almost to the limit before he named four changes in his starting line-up: Dubravka, Krafth, Schaer, Burn (c), Hall, Longstaff, Guimaraes, Anderson, Murphy, Isak and Barnes.

Blues boss Sean Dyche cited the 3-0 home win over Newcastle as the spur for tonight’s fixture saying, “We did a really good job tactically and with the delivery of the performance against them earlier in the season. We can’t rely on that but, it’s a good marker that it’s achievable to take these games on. We need to play well because there are no gimmies in the Premier League, and there are certainly not when you go to places like that.”

He continued, “It’s no easy task. We’ve got a pretty experienced group. A few are learning as they go, but we expect to go there and deliver a performance. We’ve had a knock ourselves and now it’s about correcting that. We have to make sure the details are correct because we haven’t been doing that, and that’s quite obvious in both boxes. That’s what has to certainly be intact when you go to places like St. James’.

In desperate need of a result to calm the gathering storm and bring a disastrous run of winless games to an end, Sean Dyche named his starting eleven: Jordan Pickford, Ben Godfrey, James Tarkowski (c), Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitalii Mykolenko, Ashley Young, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Amadou Onana, Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Beto.

On a cool Tyneside evening Tony Harrington was our referee for a game featuring the second worst defence in the league hosting the worst attack.

The Blues kicked off defending the Leazes End/attacking the Gallowgate End in the first half with the home fans baiting Jordan Pickford immediately the ball went anywhere near him. And it was the Everton and England number one who was quick off his line to deny Barnes at short range with barely two minutes played.

Route One from the Blues as a long ball from Pickford was well controlled by McNeil before he laid it off to Doucoure with his powerful, rising shot just clearing the crossbar. Beto won a free kick that saw McNeil find the head of James Tarkowski and from five yards out, he will be angry with himself that he didn’t get his effort on target and at least make Dubravka work,

A surging run through the midfield by McNeil saw him find Godfrey for a quick cross that Young got to and saw him unsuccessfully claim a corner. Newcastle countered from the goal kick and won the games first corner conceded by Branthwaite, that Everton defended easily. McNeil again drove forward and four times, Young had the chance to take on a defender on the outside and four times he chose to check and play backwards to Godfrey or Onana. Ben Godfrey conceded the second corner and again, the Blues defended it without too much issue.

Just before the quarter hour mark though, Barnes played a ball over the top for Isak to run onto and he collected, cut inside away from Branthwaite and fired a low shot into the bottom corner that gave Pickford no chance, and once again, the Blues were going to have to come from behind.

Good defending by Onana denied Hall on a foray forward into the Everton area as Newcastle looked to press home their early advantage. We reached the midway point of the half with the home side looking comfortable in possession and the Blues still to make any real impact upon proceedings. Longstaff to Anderson and onto Barnes with Godfrey standing firm to block his shot as Newcastle quickly covered sixty yards showing that despite a number of injuries, they have pace and confidence in themselves.

Onana tried to get the Blues moving but poor touches by both Beto and McNeil saw Murphy pick up the loose ball, make ground and send his shot from the edge of the Everton area over the bar. As Everton tried to respond, Beto cut in off the right wing with nobody in support and send a shot well wide of the target. A good ball down the left by Mykolenko found Beto but when he looked to find a teammate on his inside, his pass was poor and Newcastle cleared their lines easily.

An Everton attack broke down on the edge of the Newcastle area and that allowed them to spring forward and cause some panic in the Blues defence after an unfortunate slip by Mykolenko resulting in a corner that saw Burn send his flicked on header high over the bar. Hall went down off the ball and needed some treatment before carrying on, Newcastle not needing any more injuries.

Into the final five minutes of the half and Beto bundled his way down the right wing with the ball eventually coming to McNeil via Young and Godfrey but, he was too easily knocked off the ball and we inched towards another 45 minutes without having had a shot on target. A nice through ball from Amadou Onana found Doucoure who controlled, turned and shot and Dubravka finally had to and did make a save from the Blues.

Beto was working hard up front, largely on his own, and giving the home defence something to think about whenever he got the ball but, he desperately needed some better support and service.

Newcastle went forward in search of second marker and Pickford again came up with a key save, getting quickly across his goal line to deny Murphy with his legs and a minimum of four added minutes was announced. Another decent attack by the Toon again saw Isak the main threat as he worked his way across the 18-yard area to shoot just over the bar with Pickford getting a slight touch to ensure a corner that saw a weak header easily claimed.

Half Time: 1-0

Neither manager saw fit to change their line-ups for the restart. Another decent ball from Mykolenko down the left channel for Beto saw a slight touch on the Blues striker by Schaer with the referee waving away claims for a free kick. Newcastle countered to win a left wing corner that saw Tarkowski miscue a clearance onto the post and thankfully away.

McNeil won a free kick off Burn as a rather scrappy opening to the second half saw both sides failing to gain the upper hand in the early exchanges. Beto won and corner and appealed to the travelling fans to raise their voices, which they did. McNeil too and Longstaff cleared to the other side for a throw-in, and we passed the 55-minute mark with a long ball from Tarkowski sailing out for a goal kick.

Newcastle thought they’d doubled their lead from a free kick with a quick ball to Isak and his quick low cross was converted by Burn. VAR reviewed for a possible offside against the Newcastle skipper and mercifully ruled in the Blues favour. Sean Dyche used the stoppage on the hour mark to make a treble change with Amadou Onana, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Beto all coming off with Andre Gomes, James Garner and Dominic Calvert-Lewin coming on.

The travelling fans were doing their utmost to lift the side for the final half hour, knowing that a result was of absolute paramount importance for the club. The changes seemed to help as the Blues looked better almost immediately with Young getting in a cross just too far ahead of DCL before another good ball from Mykolenko fell nicely for James Garner to shoot, beat Dubravka only to see his shot cannon back off the far post.

The game was now much more open and exciting and Newcastle really should have doubled their lead as Barnes drove to the byeline to pull the ball back to Isak and his point blank shot was brilliantly headed off the line by Vitalii Mykolenko. Spirit of the Blues began to rain down from the towering Leazes End stand where the fantastic support was encamped, and the Blues won another corner on the left. McNeil again sent it long, the ball coming out to Young who saw a low shot blocked and cleared.

Twenty minutes to play and Newcastle withdrew Anderson for Willock.

Schaer got a desperate clearance away as Mykolenko piled into the area trying to get to a knockdown from DCL. Willock led a counter that ended with Pickford beating away a shot from Guimaraes and when the home side came again, Ben Godfrey took no chances in conceding a left wing corner that was defended. Into the final quarter of an hour and McNeil released DCL to take on Burn with the defender winning out with a goal kick.

Hall went down and was replaced by Dunnett as Eddie Howe to strengthen the defence expecting Everton to pile forward in the remaining time. James Tarkowski was yellow carded for a foul off the ball on Murphy and the Blues made a fourth chance with Youssef Chermiti replacing Idrissa Gana Gueye on 81 minutes, and his first involvement was to concede a free kick.

Garner tried to find Chermiti down the left with Burn getting back to cover, McNeil sent a cross towards DCL and again, it was Burn clearing the threat and providing a springboard for Newcastle to counter and Guimaraes shoot high over the bar off a feed from Longstaff.

Meanwhile, VAR was reviewing a potential foul on Ashley Young and the referee was summoned to take another look on the pitchside monitor to see if he felt the contact between Dunnett and Young warranted a penalty for an arm around the neck… and the marvellous Tony Harrington gave the Blues the lifeline of a spot kick with under five minutes remaining. Dominic Calvert-Lewin took the responsibility and off the hand of Dubravka, his powerful shot hit the back of the net and the top deck of the Leazes End exploded.

Now, could Everton first hold onto the point they’d reclaimed or could they go on an find a winner?

McNeil drove forward to send a shot high and wide ahead of Seamus Coleman replacing Ben Godfrey for the cameo role substitution on 90 minutes… with a massive minimum of NINE added minutes announced.

Young and Gomes combined to force a right wing corner that McNeil swung in with the referee calling for a foul before the ball reached DCL. Garner threw his body to block a shot from Longstaff before Newcastle played some keep ball to run down some valuable time. Guimaraes fed Schaer for a long range effort that was deflected behind off Chermiti for a corner that the referee signalled needed to be retaken with lots of pushing and shoving between the two sets of players.

Chermiti was booked for a foul on Schaer and a Blues break was broken up by Guimaraes and that saw McNeil booked for bringing him down to to the counter attack developing, and time expired with the travelling support much the happier despite the Blues having now gone 13 games without a win – this point won late on hostile territory felt like a win.

Full Time: 1-1

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