Martin Dubravka’s telling reaction to Newcastle United omission and Dan Ashworth’s classy gesture – moments missed
Newcastle United secured a 2-0 opening day win against Nottingham Forest at St James’s Park – here are some moments you may have missed from the match.
A late change on the bench
The majority of speculation during the build-up to the match surrounded Sven Botman and whether the defender would be handed his full debut by Eddie Howe for the Premier League season opener.
The 22-year-old had to settle for a place on the bench as Dan Burn and Fabian Schar continued their defensive partnership that proved so formidable for Newcastle during the second half of last season.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Nick Pope was handed his debut in place of Martin Dubravka.
Club captain Jamaal Lascelles was initially named on the bench but was quickly withdrawn in place of Paul Dummett after tightening up during the pre-match warm-up.
Head coach Eddie Howe said following the match: “I think he just felt his thigh tightening up.
“I don’t know how bad it is.”
Martin Dubravka's vote of confidence
Newcastle’s No. 1 was in the unfamiliar position of being named on the Newcastle bench on Saturday afternoon with Pope starting in between the sticks.
To be dropped from a side that he had been one of the first names on the teamsheet when fit since his arrival in 2018 will have been difficult for Dubravka – particularly as the goalkeeper position isn’t so readily chopped and changed compared to the outfield positions.
But the Slovakian took his omission with grace and class as he embraced the England international and gave him a pat on the back following their pre-match warm-ups.
And Pope was in for an easy afternoon on his competitive debut for the club as he kept a clean sheet without having to make a save.
Dan Ashworth's classy gesture
Dan Ashworth attended his first Premier League game as Newcastle's sporting director alongside incoming chief executive Darren Eales on Saturday afternoon.
The former Brighton And Hove Albion technical director was finally able to start his work at Newcastle this summer following a period of gardening leave.
And he quickly got down to business as he oversaw the signings of Matt Targett, Nick Pope and Sven Botman as well as several departures.
While things have cooled on the transfer front, Ashworth helped secure Howe to a long term deal at St James’s Park ahead of the season opener.
Ahead of the Nottingham Forest match, he used the opportunity to become acquainted with his new matchday surroundings as he met with matchday staff and introduced himself to individual members of the press prior to kick-off.
The 51-year-old’s hands-on and personable approach has seen him make a strong impression early on at the club as he looks to help secure some attacking reinforcements before the end of the transfer window.
A fitting send off for a Newcastle legend
Long-serving Newcastle physio Derek Wright bid farewell to the club that he served for 38 years earlier this summer.
And the Premier League season opener saw the pre-match Wor Flags display thank Wright for his years of service with a ‘thank you Derek’ banner on display in the East Stand.
Following a goalless but dominant first half for Newcastle, Wright took to the field during the break and was met by a warm reception by the home supporters as he experienced a Newcastle match as a fan for the first time in decades.
He admitted: “I’m more nervous watching from the stands now!”
Callum Wilson’s fine record continues
After a flurry of second half chances, it was Fabian Schar who opened The Magpies’ account for the season with a thunderous 25-yard drive into the top right corner of the goal. It was the Swiss international’s third goal of 2022 and a near carbon copy of his goal of the month winning strike against Burnley in February 2019.
It was a deserved lead for United and one they built upon in the closing stages from an expected source.
Callum Wilson had scored in each of his two opening day fixtures for Newcastle, both against West Ham United. So when a chance fell his way from a low Joelinton cross, he didn’t let it go to waste as he delicately clipped the ball into the far corner of the goal with the outside of his boot to make it three from three on the opening day in black and white.
Newcastle United director and special guests in attendance
Part of the 52,245 people in attendance to watch the comfortable 2-0 win at St James’s Park included new director Majed Al Sorour.
The Saudi Gold chief executive was appointed as a director at Newcastle back in May alongside chairman and Public Investment Fund governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as well as co-owners Amanda Staveley and Jamie Reuben on the club’s board.
Al Sorour has attended matches at St James’s Park since the club’s takeover last October and kept up appearances for the Premier League curtain raiser this weekend.
Co-owner Reuben was also accompanied by his father David and brother David Jr in the director’s box.
‘The photo’ returns
Every Newcastle United victory last season was accompanied by a celebratory post match team photo from the dressing room – with the exception of the win against Arsenal back in May – which saw a photo taken in front of the Gallowgate Stand.
It was unclear whether the tradition would continue into the new season, which is very much a clean slate for the club as they picked up a Premier League win that took them 111 days into the season to achieve in 2021-22.
But roughly an hour after the full-time whistle, Newcastle’s Twitter account uploaded the now iconic dressing room photo to celebrate the opening day three points.
Hopefully there will be many more photos to follow over the course of the campaign.