Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Bournemouth 2 Newcastle United 2

Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey

Jonjo Shelvey was one of the last players to leave the field.

Shelvey, after applauding Newcastle United’s 1,300 travelling fans, slowly headed to the dressing room.

Matt Ritchie, right

Matt Ritchie, right

The midfielder lifted the collar of his shirt up over his mouth, seemingly replaying the game – and his chance – over in his head.

Eventually, Shelvey, followed by Mohamed Diame, left the field, his head still bowed.

It felt like a defeat. Newcastle had been that close to taking three points. They had been that close to climbing up to 10th place, ahead of Bournemouth.

So near, yet so far.

Jonjo Shelvey misses a chance to score late in the game and secure the points for Newcastle United.

Jonjo Shelvey misses a chance to score late in the game and secure the points for Newcastle United.

Saturday’s 2-2 draw wasn’t disastrous, far from it. But it will be wins, not draws, which ultimately keep United in the Premier League.

Had they held on, Rafa Benitez’s side would have been nine points – or three wins – away from the 40-point mark.

That still seems a long way off right now, especially given that the club is likely to have a three-week break between fixtures next month.

Not one Newcastle player came through the mixed zone after the game. Instead, they headed straight for the team bus.

Benitez – whose side had beaten Manchester United on their previous outing – had calmed down by the time he walked through to the media suite.

Newcastle’s manager was philosophical in his assessment, though his frustration was clear in his expression.

For 70 minutes, his team had been very good. Shelvey had been very good, too.

“If you look at the last two games, the team has been doing really well,” said Benitez.

“We can make mistakes though, because, at the end of the day, we’re talking about the Premier League.”

Admittedly, Bournemouth, by their own standards, were poor until their 20-minute rally, but Newcastle, more or less, controlled the game.

They soaked up Bournemouth’s early pressure and steadily grew in confidence.

Newcastle were a threat on the break all afternoon. They had Bournemouth exactly where they wanted them after scoring two first-half goals.

Eddie Howe’s side, chasing the game, were leaving gaps for United to exploit, and had Shelvey or Ayoze Perez been able to finish, then the outcome would have been very, very different.

Gayle has had a difficult season, but he didn’t have much difficulty finishing his chances.

The first owed everything to a superb pass from Shelvey, which set away Matt Ritchie, signed from Bournemouth in the summer of 2016, down the right flank.

Ritchie crossed and Gayle, eventually, was able to backheel the ball into an empty net.

The second, scored in first half injury-time, was easier.

After a corner was half-clever, Paul Dummett delivered a deep cross to Perez, and a mistake from Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic left Gayle with a tap-in.

And that should’ve been that.

Newcastle were organised and disciplined. They had a good shape, and they repeatedly hit Bournemouth on the break.

It seemed only a matter of time before they would get a third goal.

Shelvey’s miss changed the game.

Bournemouth hit back, first through Adam Smith and then through former United midfielder Dan Gosling, who netted an 89th-minute equaliser. It was tough on Newcastle, but the Premier League is a tough, tough league.