Matt Ritchie hits back at claims Newcastle aren’t ‘clinical’ enough in front of goal

Matt Ritchie and Asmir Begovic at the final whistle
Matt Ritchie and Asmir Begovic at the final whistle

Matt Ritchie has defended Newcastle United’s record in front of goal – after Rafa Benitez’s side drew a blank against his former club.

Bournemouth won 1-0 at St James’s Park on Saturday after scoring in injury-time.

Benitez brought on Perez to try and get a goal

Benitez brought on Perez to try and get a goal

Newcastle, however, had created chance after chance before the break.

United were dominant in the first half, but they couldn’t beat goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

The defeat followed a another Premier League loss by the same scoreline to Burnley five days earlier. Newcastle have scored just 10 goals so far this season, but Ritchie doesn’t think the team has a problem in front of goal.

“I think it’s a bit harsh to say we haven’t been clinical enough,” said the winger, signed from Bournemouth last year. “You’re playing against top defenders, and you have to work hard for your chances.

It would be wrong to say we haven’t been clinical enough. Each to their own – everyone will have their own opinions – but my opinion is that, yes, it would be nice if when you create a chance you score a goal, but it doesn’t always work like that.

Matt Ritchie

“It would be wrong to say we haven’t been clinical enough. Each to their own – everyone will have their own opinions – but my opinion is that, yes, it would be nice if when you create a chance you score a goal, but it doesn’t always work like that.

“You’re playing against top defenders – it’s so quick out there. You’re not going to score with every chance you create.

“You have to continue to create chances, and, hopefully, the more chances you create, the more goals you will score.”

Ritchie tested Begovic, his former Portsmouth team-mate, from 30 yards and also struck the post.

“I think we performed really well in the first half,” said the 28-year-old. “We were good off the ball, and we were good on it too. We created some good chances, but then in the second half you saw a reaction from them. We became a little bit stretched.

“They’re a good side, and it was always going to be a tough game. It’s a horrible way to lose, but we’ll go again.

“I think that just shows how tight the Premier League is. We’ve won a few games like this season, and it just shows that the small margins are massively important.

“You’ve got to do something really special just to create a chance. You have to be good as a team and work hard for your chances. I think we did that in the first half.

“But then you have to take them and we just couldn’t do that. We were on the front foot, pressed really well and regained the ball in good positions. We just couldn’t quite make the most of it.

“Then in the second half, we didn’t create as much as we would have liked to, but that was probably because of the reaction from them.

“If we continue to perform the way we played in the first half, we’ll pick up points for sure.”

Ritchie was especially frustrated not to score.

“I was a little bit disappointed not to score,” said the Scotland international. “Asmir’s obviously made a fantastic save for the first one.

“I couldn’t see him, so it was impossible for him to see the ball. So he’s pulled off a really good save.

“With the second one, I’ve just set it off a little bit too far outside the post, and it’s not come in enough and hit the post.

“That could have been a defining moment, but it wasn’t to be.”