A six goal thriller that wasn’t really a six goal thriller saw us pinch a point, almost absolutely rob three and then settle for one which on the balance of it was just about right. For every positive to take from the afternoon though, there were three negatives as serious questions remain about our squad, manager and general direction.
We lined up with De Jong and Haidara promoted to the starting line up but had barely taken our seats when Palace took the lead. With 40 seconds on the clock, the visitors broke and Chamakh’s shot was palmed onto the post by Krul only for the unmarked Gayle to lash in the rebound. Would it be harsh to say that Krul should have done better with the first attempt? I’m not sure but the keeper is yet another that has regressed under Pardew and doesn’t instill the confidence he once did. We laboured badly throughout the half and only created one meaningful chance after a slip by Puncheon in the middle led to us counter attacking with a crisp passing move culminating in the awful Sissoko flashing a shot wide.
Marginally against the run of play, we equalised not long before half time after a tenacious run by Janmaat saw him get a couple of lucky deflections on the way to bundling the ball past Speroni. The full back was one of the few bright sparks from the afternoon and his late withdrawal from injury was a concern.
The second half started as badly as the first had with Palace back in front within moments and it was a hideous one to concede from a defensive point of view. Puncheon had a bad ball fizzed in to him inside the box and despite controlling it ten foot in the air, the lack of any sort of challenge gave him the time to let it drop before scuffing a finish past Krul. No organisation or responsibility in our defence and we looked as brittle as they did.
We huffed and puffed and they did all they could to waste time but it was only the introduction of Aarons for the shocking Gouffran that helped turn the tide of the game.
The latter adds absolutely zilch to the team. If I hear another person talk about how much he ‘tries’ and runs around I’m going to twat them. He’s pish and if our expectations are so low that we should be grateful that a player is trying for us, then we really should pack in.
His replacement was only on the pitch for five minutes before he drew us level with a clever glanced header from a corner and the goal and his presence at least gave the side a lift.
From the other side, Zaha’s introduction had a similarly galvanising effect and by the end, you could have argued that the youngster returning for his second spell at Selhurst Park could have had a hat trick himself. He had one ruled off for offside which was borderline at best and got the ball caught in his feet when played in shortly after and it looked to cost them dear when we grabbed what would have been a wholly undeserved winner. The ‘tactic’ of having Williamson as our main attacking threat finally paid off when Aarons (again) beat his man and put over a lovely, teasing cross. There was an element of fortune when the ball came back off the post at the feet of the centre half who managed to compose himself long enough to stab home from two yards. I was pleased for him – I’m unavowedly of the opinion that he’s not good enough for this division but I do think he’s a player performing to the top end of his ability which is a lot more than some of his team mates can say.
While we were ready to celebrate a welcome victory, there was still one more twist in the tail when another shocking piece of defending saw the ball being laid off to Zaha inside the box, with the substitute having the time to pick his spot in the bottom corner to level things up.
A point was the best we deserved and the game posed some serious questions about us for the campaign ahead. Are we going to sign a striker in the next hours and if not, where are we going to score any goals? Is Cabella really that good? Can we give Riviere the benefit of the doubt of having no strike partner and/or service or is he actually a plank? How long can we carry Sissoko and Gouffran game after game? Is it really fair to rely on a raw, 18 year old kid to pull us out of the shit on a regular basis? When will someone put us out of our misery and get rid of the fucking idiot in the dugout?
I’ve got no answers but I can confidently predict that it’s going to be a slog. Again.
Newcastle United – Krul 4, JANMAAT 8 (Anita 6), Williamson 7, Coloccini 6, Haidara 7, Cabella 4, Sissoko 3, Colback 5, Gouffran 3 (Aarons 8), De Jong 3 (Perez 6)
Ref – Jones – 7 – No complaints
Our Fans – 5 – Noisy in patches, catatonic in others
Their Fans – 8 – Good club, good fans, a mile ahead of most that come up here
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