Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Newcastle United 2 Queens Park Rangers 2

Matt Ritchie gets up to head Newcastle 2-1 up against QPR. Picture by Frank Reid

Matt Ritchie gets up to head Newcastle 2-1 up against QPR. Picture by Frank Reid

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The game came less than 24 hours after the transfer window closed.

Jonjo Shelvey fires Newcastle into a first-minute lead. Picture by Frank Reid

Jonjo Shelvey fires Newcastle into a first-minute lead. Picture by Frank Reid

Rafa Benitez, at least, had one more player available following the return of Mohamed Diame from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Newcastle United’s manager didn’t get what he wanted in the window, and he didn’t get the three points he wanted last night.

Queens Park Rangers, however, deserved the point they took from the 2-2 draw, though Ian Holloway’s side should have been down to 10 men long before Ciaran Clark headed the ball into his own net in the 90th minute.

When Jonjo Shelvey plays well, Newcastle invariably win.

Shelvey scored, but he didn’t play well.

And United were a long way off their best.

The midfielder – who was an unused substitute for the weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Oxford – was outstanding in United’s 6-0 win at Loftus Road early this season.

Shelvey scored twice in that game. And he took just 42 seconds to find the net at St James’s Park.

Isaac Hayden skipped to the byline and his cross was half-cleared to Shelvey, who struck it on the half-volley just outside the box.

Newcastle ran away with the game at Loftus Road.

It was a different story at St James’s Park.

Benitez also, briefly, lost Clark to a head wound, but the defender – who clashed heads with Jamie Mackie – was able to continue after several minutes of treatment.

Newcastle struggled to get any momentum, while QPR looked dangerous whenever they got into the home half of the pitch.

They were poor, surprisingly poor. Shelvey went missing after scoring.

If there was going to be another goal, it was going to be scored by QPR, who played with energy and enthusiasm. United, by contrast, were lacklustre and lethargic.

The equaliser was a needless goal from a needlessly conceded corner, which was half-cleared by Daryl Murphy. Jake Bidwell’s shot from outside the area took a deflection, and Washington prodded the ball home from close range.

It was nothing less than QPR deserved.

If anything, Newcastle were fortunate to go into the break on level terms given QPR’s domination.

Things looked like going from bad to worse after the interval. Yoan Gouffran gave the ball away in a dangerous area, and Karl Darlow stopped a shot from Pawel Wszolek with his legs.

Then, out of nothing, United were back in front.

Gouffran played the ball to Hayden in the box, and the midfielder clipped the ball towards the far post, where Ritchie met it with his head to put the club back in the lead.

Shelvey tested Alex Smithies with a shot from distance soon after the goal.

Sammy Ameobi replaced Murphy in the 66th minute.

Ameobi needed treatment seconds after coming on after Joel Lynch planted his boot the forward’s back after he took a tumble. Lynch, inexplicably, wasn’t even booked, despite the fact that the linesman was stood less than five yards away.

It was a horrible challenge. Fortunately, Ameobi was able to continue.

And Newcastle continued pressuring QPR. They were better, much better.

Gouffran, by now leading the line after Murphy’s withdrawal, forced a saved from Smithies, but Holloway’s side didn’t give up. Some of their balls forward were hopeful, at best, but they prodded and probed.

Ayoze Perez, meanwhile, didn’t have the conviction to make the most of the opportunities that came his way at the other end of the pitch.

Benitez kept Diame on the bench until late in the game, presumably to rest him after his exertions with Senegal in Gabon.

The midfielder, however, will surely return to the starting XI against Derby County on Saturday.

Diame replaced Perez, whose pace had created problems for QPR as they chased the game.

The visitors, unfortunately for United, kept on chasing the game.

And an own goal from Clark – he headed a cross from former Newcastle winger Kazenga LuaLua backwards past Darlow – saw QPR take a point from the match.

There were a few boos at the final whistle.

That was harsh, but this division is harsh, as Newcastle are finding out.