Miles Starforth's match analysis: Newcastle United 1 Burnley 1

There was a powerful message off the field at St James's Park '“ but could Newcastle United make a statement on the pitch?

Thursday, 1st February 2018, 11:00 am
Updated Thursday, 1st February 2018, 11:41 am
Kenedy (Pic: Frank Reid)

The answer was yes. And no.

Yes, because Kenedy made a difference. And no, because the team let another two points slip through their hands.

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The Wor Flags flags display in the Gallowgate end of the stadium before the game, which was played out on transfer deadline day, was striking and stunning.

It was quite a statement.

A quote from Kevin Keegan, aimed at owner Miike Ashley, was raised up before kick-off time.

It read: “Don’t ever give up on your club. Keep supporting it.

Joselu takes his penalty (Pic: Frank Reid)

“It’s your club and trust me, one day you will get your club back and it will be everything you wanted it to be. Newcastle United is bigger than anyone.

“It hurts I know, but just keep going. He is only one man. We are a city. A while population. Trust me.”

United fans trust Rafa Benitez, who, like Keegan before him, has had his battles with Ashley.

Benitez boldly named Kenedy in his starting XI despite a lack of match fitness, and the winger, on his debut, didn’t let him down.

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Kenedy, signed on loan from Chelsea, had a shot turned on to the post in the 17th minute. Christian Atsu had a follow-up effort saved.

It was an open game, maybe too open for Benitez’s liking, and Burnley attacked with pace, power and purpose when they had the ball.

Ashley Barnes had a goal ruled out for a push on United captain seconds after a penalty appeal was waved away.

Kenedy, though, was a threat whenever he had the ball and he showed glimpses of his undoubted potential.

Joselu takes his penalty (Pic: Frank Reid)

The 21-year-old won a 34th minute penalty with one run into the box. Kenedy was clumsily brought down in the box by Phil Bardsley, and referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot.

Joselu wouldn’t have been the choice of many inside St James’s Park to take the penalty, but he took the ball.

The striker aimed at the bottom right-hand corner of the net, but Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope got to his low spot kick.

It wasn’t going to his Joselu’s night.

United, with Mohamed Diame driving them on in midfield, pressed on.

Ciaran Clark also had a header saved before the break, and Benitez’s team attempted to pick up where they left off after the break.

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But they just couldn’t get a clear sight of goal, and Burnley were a threat on the counter-attack.

The breakthrough came in the 65th minute. A Kenedy cross was put out, and he whipped in a cross from the resulting corner which was powerfully headed home by Lascelles.

There was relief on and off the pitch. Newcastle, having been the better team before the break, had deserved the lead. And the goal had come from a moment of quality from Kenedy, who fans hope will have a big say in the club’s relegation battle.

United will need a lot more moments like it between now and the end of the season.

Kenedy left the field to a standing ovation – he was replaced by Matt Ritchie for the last 18 minutes – and United looked to be heading for a first home league win in more than three months.

Burnley responded well to the goal.

And visiting substitute Sam Vokes headed a corner in off the crossbar and Karl Darlow.

It was an unfortunate goal and unfortunate end to a game which Newcastle know they should have won.

The result lifted the club up one place to 14th, but Newcastle remain just one point above the relegation zone.

And that’s far too close for comfort. United needs goals – and wins.