Miles Starforth's match analysis: Cardiff City 0 Newcastle United 0
Isaac Hayden lost his head. So too did Kenedy.
But nothing has been won or lost in the Premier League – yet.
Saturday wasn’t a good day for Newcastle United. Rafa Benitez lost Isaac Hayden to a three-game suspension, and it’s likely that he’ll lose Kenedy to a ban.
Javier Manquillo also limped off the field at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Not good, though the point that United took home might prove to be a good one, as bad as it was for the club’s 2,000 or so travelling fans and those watching at home on Tyneside.
Newcastle were bad, yet Cardiff City could only manage one shot on target. They just didn’t look like scoring.
Kenedy, meanwhile, got his 95th-minute penalty on target, but that wasn’t saying much. It was a poor spot kick, and Rafa Benitez’s side paid the penalty for it.
The winger shouldn’t have been on the field at that point, having kicked out at Victor Camarasa in the first half.
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock labelled it “poetic justice”, while Benitez had his own grumbles about referee Craig Pawson, who had missed Kenedy’s off-the-ball kick.
Pawson, however, couldn’t miss Hayden’s clumsy challenge on Josh Murphy, who made his by lining up against his twin brother Jacob, a substitute for United, in the second half.
Hayden’s challenge was needless, as the midfielder himself acknowledged in an apology posted on Twitter after the game.
So it was two points dropped and two players lost for Newcastle, a club which can ill-afford suspensions or injuries this season.
It gets harder from here. Chelsea are next, followed by Manchester City and Arsenal.
United need to get into their stride – and quickly. Benitez also needs the club’s new signings to get up and running.
Salomon Rondon was an unused substitute against Cardiff, but surely the striker, playing catch-up with his fitness, will start against Chelsea at St James’s Park on Sunday.
Yoshimori Muto – whose cross was handled by Sean Morrison for United’s penalty – needs to quickly adjust to Premier League football. Benitez doesn’t expect many goals from Muto, but he needs pace and movement in his team.
Too many players had off-days against Cardiff.
Manquillo, handed a start in the absence of the injured DeAndre Yedlin, was in trouble long before he went down clutching his ankle.
Jonjo Shelvey delivered a superb first-half cross for Ayoze Perez, whose effort was stopped by goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. But did he do enough? Newcastle needed to be better with the ball.
Kenedygave away possession time and again, while Mohamed Diame struggled to make an impression on the game.
“We put ourselves under pressure with some mistakes,” said a frustrated Benitez.
“There were many things I didn’t like too much.”
Matt Ritchie was hampered by his early yellow card and had to be taken off after substitute Hayden’s dismissal necessitated a switch to right-back.
Joselu – who had played well a week earlier against Tottenham Hotspur – had a frustrating afternoon up front. Perez, the best finisher at the club, should have done better with his two first-half chances.
United, at least, were competitive. They scrapped and fought, though Hayden and Kenedy took it too far.
There’s something to work on, something to build on. It’s a slow start, but it’s still a start.