NEWCASTLE United went back to the future with 2015 just a few hours old.
There was free-flowing football, local lads scoring goals – and defensive howlers.
Assistant manager John Carver, put in temporary charge after Alan Pardew’s departure, joked it was like the “old days” when Kevin Keegan was in charge at St James’s Park.
It was, literally, a game of two halves.
Newcastle were expansive and expressive in a first half which saw the three outfield Geordies in United’s starting XI find the net – though Paul Dummett’s goal came at the wrong end of the pitch.
But a once-promising performance steadily unravelled after the break.
Steven Taylor and Jack Colback scored at the right end for Newcastle along with Moussa Sissoko, who had seemingly claimed three points for the team with his 78th-minute strike.
But George Boyd capitalised on some dreadful defending to equalise in the dying minutes.
And few would begrudge Burnley – who struck the woodwork FOUR times – the point they took home to Lancashire.
Sean Dyche’s spirited team forced a series of errors.
The injury suffered by Taylor will also prove costly.
United have looked far more solid when Taylor – set to miss the rest of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon – has been on the field.
But will club owner Mike Ashley sanction a signing this month?
Certainly, Carver – whose side take on Leicester City in the FA Cup tomorrow – is desperately short of options at the back.
It had all started so well.
Newcastle, given an early let-off when a shot from Ashley Barnes struck the post, quickly got themselves on the front foot.
Gouffran forced a save with a right-foot shot on the turn, and Emmanuel Riviere, a surprise starter for United, headed a left-footed cross in from Daryl Janmaat over Tom Heaton’s goal.
The pressure told in the 15th minute, when Taylor climbed about Jason Shackell and headed a Colback corner past Heaton.
It was Taylor’s first strike of the season, and something of a rarity, with goals from corners having been few and far between in recent years.
Newcastle’s lead, however, lasted just three minutes.
And Burnley levelled through an own goal from Dummett, whose attempted headed backpass sailed past goalkeeper Jak Alnwick and into the back of the net.
The next goal wasn’t long in coming.
United broke down the right and the ball was pulled back for Janmaat, who rolled it to Colback, 25 yards from goal.
The midfielder – who had scored his first Newcastle goal four days earlier against Everton at St James’s Park – lashed the ball in off the post with his left foot to restore Newcastle’s one-goal advantage.
Things got worse for Burnley manager Dyche when he lost substitute Kevin Long to injury later in the half.
By the 36th minute, Dyche – who had already been forced to take off Shackell and Dean Marney – had used all three of his substitutes.
Still, Burnley fought back after the break, and Danny Ings hit the bar in the 48th minute, with Alnwick denying Barnes’s follow-up effort before Janmaat hacked the ball clear.
Newcastle were nervous, and Burnley had sensed this.
Carver lost Taylor to injury as the hour-mark approached and Ben Mee struck the bar with a header.
United were edgy and uncomfortable, and Burnley had a penalty claim waved away by referee Mike Dean after Ings went down in the box under a challenge from Cheik Tiote.
Alnwick tipped over a shot from distance from George Boyd before Burnley’s pressure finally told.
Ings glanced a cross from substitute Michael Kightly past Alnwick to level the scores
Carver brought on Massadio Hadiara for the last 19 minutes and switched to a three-man defence, and the change worked.
Sissoko put Newcastle back in the lead with a precise finish after good work from substiute Armstrong and Ayoze Perez, but Boyd – who had scored in the 1-1 draw between the two sides at Turf Moor last month – claimed a point for Burnley.
United failed to deal with a ball over the top aimed for Ings, and Burnley beat Alwnick with a neat shot.
Newcastle’s second-half performance, however, was anything but neat and tidy.
And Carver and first-team coach Steve Stone have a job on their hands over the coming weeks.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Alnwick 5; Janmaat 6, Coloccini 5, S Taylor 6 (Williamson, 60, 5), Dummett 5; SISSOKO 6, Colback 6, Tiote 5, Gouffran 5 (Haidara, 71, 6); Riviere 6 (Armstrong, 57, 6), Perez 6. Subs not used: Woodman, Santon, Anita, Cabella.
BURNLEY: Heaton; Trippier, Shackell (Long, 17, Reid, 36), Keane, Mee; Arfield, Jones, Marney (Kightly, 31), Boyd; Barnes, Ings. Subs not used: Gilks, Wallace, Sordell, Jutkiewicz.
Man of the match: Moussa Sissoko. Must have thought he’d won the game late on.
Highlight: Jack Colback’s goal – it was a screamer.
Lowlight: The injury suffered by Steven Taylor.
Goals: S Taylor 15, Dummett 18 (og), Colback 26, Ings 66, Sissoko 78, Boyd 86
Bookings: Ings 64, Janmaat 67, Mee 83, Trippier 83, Williamson 89
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirral)