Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Newcastle United 0 Bournemouth 1


Newcastle United haven’t become a bad team overnight.

Equally, they didn’t become a Premier League team overnight after securing promotion.

And Rafa Benitez’s side, after a year out of the division, are finding out just how fine the margins now are in the top flight.

Newcastle played against Bournemouth well for 45 minutes on Saturday.

But they couldn’t score, though Dwight Gayle had a good goal wrongly disallowed.

And they lost 1-0 for the second time in five days.

Jonjo Shelvey, centre

Jonjo Shelvey, centre

Had Gayle’s goal, ruled out for offside, been allowed to stand, the outcome would have been very different.

For a 20-minute spell in the first half, United created chance after chance.

Manager Rafa Benitez, unusually, played with two strikers. He paired Joselu with Gayle, who was recalled to the starting XI for his first start since August.

And it worked. Newcastle played with pace and purpose.

Christian Atsu

Christian Atsu

Former Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie forced an early save from his former Portsmouth team-mate Asmir Begovic,who also denied Christian Atsu, who had an unsuccessful loan at the Vitality Stadium the season before last.

The chances kept coming, and when Ritchie struck the post with a chance, Gayle pounced.

The flag went up, but Gayle wasn’t offside.

Bournemouth rallied before the break – Rob Elliot denied Josh King – and the two teams went into the interval still on level terms.

Isaac Hayden

Isaac Hayden

The second half was very different.

Callum Wilson ran onto a ball from the left and, through on goal, shot into the side netting.

By the time Bournemouth won a late corner, most Newcastle fans, having seen Ciaran Clark make a goalline clearance, would have been happy to take a point.

They had also seen Jermain Defoe come off the bench for Bournemouth.

Defoe, however, didn’t turn out to be the match-winner.

Instead, Steve Cook climbed over the top of two United defenders to meet an injury-time corner.

And that was that.

It was a costly week for Newcastle.

Benitez, already without midfielder Mikel Merino for several weeks, also lost captain Jamaal Lascelles to an ankle injury, while Atsu left the field after “feeling something”.

United needed a win ahead of the November 18 game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Benitez and his players know that next month – with three away games in London – is a tough, tough month.

They could play well and still lose three or four games.

The club was as high as sixth last month, but Benitez knows his team, now in 11th place, could quickly drop down the table between now and the turn of the year, when the transfer window opens.

And that’s the thing. We all knew when the summer window closed that Newcastle were short in key areas.

Benitez didn’t get the striker he wanted. Or an extra winger.

United’s organisation and team ethic took them a long way in the first few months of the season.

But the hardest thing to do in the Premier League is score goals.

That’s why proven strikers – or the best from the continent – costs tens of millions of pounds.

And that was the kind of money that Benitez simply didn’t have to spend in the summer.