Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Newcastle simply didn’t do enough with the ball

The winning goal from Tomer Hemed
The winning goal from Tomer Hemed

You win some. You lose some.

Newcastle United’s three-game winning run came to an end at the Amex Stadium yesterday.

Solly March and Newcastle United's DeAndre Yedlin

Solly March and Newcastle United's DeAndre Yedlin

But the club is still seventh in the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s home game against Liverpool.

Brighton and Hove Albion deserved the win.

They got the points. And Chris Hughton’s side, pipped to the Championship title by Newcastle, got their revenge.

United had two good chances at the Amex Stadium – Mikel Merino forced a good save from Mathew Ryan and Joselu somehow dragged an effort wide – but they simply didn’t do enough with the ball.

Dwight Gayle appeals against a decision

Dwight Gayle appeals against a decision

They didn’t pressure enough. And they didn’t create enough. It was one of those days.

That said, Newcastle’s supporters created enough noise in the stadium’s South Stand, having quickly sold out their 2,500-ticket allocation for the 700-mile round-trip.

Back in February, Newcastle came from behind to win 2-1 at the stadium.

The result proved to be hugely-significant, but it would be wrong to attach any significance to this result.

Benitez knew a defeat would come. United’s manager said as much in his pre-match press conference. He’d just hoped to delay the inevitable.

Benitez named an unchanged side for the first Premier League match between the two sides.

Merino deservedly kept his place ahead of Jonjo Shelvey, and the midfielder tested Ryan, chosen in goal ahead of ex-United goalkeeper Tim Krul, with a well-struck volley from a floated Matt Ritchie corner.

Brighton saw most of the ball in the first 20 minutes.

Anthony Knockaert, once a target for Benitez, started a move with a powerful run forward. Fortunately for United, he got in the way of Pascal Gross’ eventual shot.

Rob Elliot also had to dive to collect a dangerous cross from Solly March, who had come close to joining Newcastle while at Lewes in 2011.

Joselu somehow dragged a shot narrowly wide at the other end of the pitch

Brighton looked dangerous outside the box, but United defended well when they side stepped into the area.

Benitez and Hughton paced their areas anxiously late in the first half as Newcastle, finally, started to pressure their hosts.

United couldn’t force a breakthrough, and that Joselu chance came back to haunt them.

Brighton started the second half strongly, and within minutes they were ahead. Jamaal Lascelles conceded a free-kick, and Gross delivered the ball to the far post, where Dale Stephens headed to Hemed, who fired past Elliot.

Benitez was unhappy at Bruno, who he felt blocked Chancel Mbemba as Gross delivered the set-piece.

Soon afterwards Elliot, racing back to his line, somehow kept out a tight-angled shot from March with his foot.

Newcastle just couldn’t keep possession. Time and again they gave the ball and needing more composure, Benitez replaced Isaac Hayden with Jonjo Shelvey in the 67th minute.

Dwight Gayle – who was booed by Brighton’s fans for his former association with Crystal Palace, their rivals – quickly followed Shelvey on to the pitch.

Shelvey put a 77th-minute free-kick over Ryan’s goal, and they weren’t convincing on the ball.

The home side probed away for a second goal, but the strike from Hemed – who appeared to stamp on DeAndre Yedlin late in the game – was enough.

Newcastle’s fans headed out of Brighton as Corbynistas headed into the city for the annual Labour conference. There will have been a lot to debate on the way 350-mile journey home as delegates debated political issues in seafront bars.