It’s difficult to write this match report with any kind of gusto as the whole thing was generally so unmemorable that I can hardly recall anything about it. Brighton beat us 1-0 yet it doesn’t even feel like we lost, it feels more like the match was a figment of a bored imagination.
Brighton weren’t particularly good. We weren’t particularly good. Brighton didn’t create much. We didn’t create much. The atmosphere from my vantage point was piss flat. Was it because we expected to win or was it because it felt like a game between two teams who had just gained promotion yet not realised they were playing each other in the Premier League in September?
We lost yet it’s difficult to criticise or praise anyone as no one was particularly poor or good. Elliot again played like a table footballer in that he just moved left to right along the line (admittedly making an excellent save from March after the Hemed goal), the defence was solid other than the lapse which allowed Hemed to score (although there’s every reason to be annoyed with Marriner for not spotting what may well have been a push by the Bruno on Mbemba in the lead up to the goal) and Merino was once again passing and moving incredibly well.
We all knew what Brighton would do once they scored. They sat back and allowed us to completely dictate the flow of the game. However, for all of our control we lacked a cutting edge. Before Brighton’s goal there were chances to take the lead. Ryan produced a good save from Merino in the 2nd minute and, as much as it pains me to say it, Joselu had a couple of chances that he should’ve buried. Had we gone a goal up I don’t think we’d have conceded.
Gayle came on and he fashioned one chance towards the end which produced a decent save low down at by Ryan at his right hand post but, ultimately, chasing the game at one down doesn’t play to his strengths as his physical presence was never going to impact like Murphy’s did last season. Shelvey came on for Hayden which was a change I think many at half-time were hoping for. He was busy and cracked the post with another one of his cheeky corner shots. However, for all of our control it never felt to me that we’d stick one in. Mbemba was replaced by Gaméz and his shot late on in to the side netting seemed to be the signal for one of those moments you stand there and think, ‘aye, we’re not scoring today’. Atsu and Ritchie grafted like they do, Merino was as superb on the ball and in his movement (emphasised further by a random Brighton fan on the train telling me ‘your number 23 was fuckin superb’) as he has been from day one yet we never looked threatening in the final third for most of the game. Hemed looked like he may well have stamped on Yedlin in the latter stages and might face some retrospective punishment. Not that it really matters now.
I’m aware that this match report may come across as negative. However, I am certainly not suggesting there’s any reason to be downbeat. It was just one of those days in which we were punished for not taking early chances. However, we were neither any worse nor hugely better than the opposition. What we do know is that this set of players will be annoyed that they got nothing from the game and I am certain they will be absolutely desperate to get back to winning against Liverpool next Sunday. I’m confident they will.
Attendance 30,468 – an AMEX record….you’ve only come to see Newcastle….
NORMAN RILEY – FOLLOW NORMAN ON @likethegoat
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