Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Newcastle United 3 Manchester United 3

Paul Dummett celebrates his late equaliser.
Paul Dummett celebrates his late equaliser.

If Jonjo Shelvey and Henri Saivet had any second thoughts about joining Newcastle United, they won’t now.

Not after watching this pulsating and perplexing game against Manchester United.

They saw St James’s Park, so often moribund this season, come alive.

And the hero? Paul Dummett, a player who rarely steps out of the shadows at the club.

More importantly, on last night’s evidence, there’s life in Steve McClaren’s team yet.

There was a minute’s applause in memory of the late goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek before the game, which was attended by his brother Milan.

During Srnicek’s career at St James’s Park, there were some titantic battles between Newcastle and Manchester United.

Both teams have fallen since those days, Newcastle far more so than the team they once challenged for the Premier League title.

Twenty years on from those memorable games, the team, again, is battling to stay in the division.

But the club’s fans can at least take heart from a performance which saw the club end a 454-minute goal drought and come from two goals down to claim a point from a 3-3 draw.

The result also ended a run of four 1-0 defeats.

Newcastle started on the front foot, but a controversial decision quickly put them on the back foot.

Referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot in the ninth minute after Marouane Fellaini, attacking a Daley Blind corner, headed the ball on to the flailing arm of Chancel Mbemba as he rose for an aerial challenge.

Not one visiting player appealed for a penalty, yet Dean quickly made the call, believing Mbemba was attempting to stop the ball with his arm.

Man United captain Wayne Rooney converted the spot kick to score his first goal at St James’s Park since United’s last relegation season in 2008-09.

Rooney put another chance wide from open play in the 27th minute.

Seconds later, Wijnaldum was denied by the legs of David de Gea.

Wijnaldum should have scored. And he knew it.

Then came a clear penalty, only it wasn’t given. Jesse Lingard took Daryl Janmaat before the ball as he darted towards goal, but Dean waved play on.

Man United capitalised on a quick break forward in the 38th minute. Mbemba lost the ball, and Fabricio Coloccini was too slow in getting to Rooney, who set up Lingard, whose shot went through Rob Elliot’s legs.

All over? Not by a long stretch.

Newcastle’s long wait for a goal ended three minutes before the break.

Coloccini lofted a ball into the box which was headed by Mitrovic, a peripheral figure up to then, to Wijnaldum.

This time, Wijnaldum found the net with an instinctive, first-time finish.

Neither team had looked particularly convincing during a first half which had also seen a banner protesting against Newcastle owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct business unfurled in the Gallowgate end of the stadium.

But the home side were unfortunate to be trailing at the break.

Moussa Sissoko tested Gea from a tight angle early in the second half, while Coloccini made a perfectly-timed tackled to deny Rooney a goalscoring opportunity.

Jack Colback, back in the side after recovering from a hamstring problem, took a tumble under pressure from Fellaini, but no penalty was given.

Dean, however, couldn’t ignore Chris Smalling’s 65th minute foul on Mitrovic, who had been wrestled to the ground in the box.

And Mitrovic stepped up to sweep home the ball to level the score – and lift the roof at St James’s Park.

Rooney, however, struck in the 79th minute to seemingly claim all three points for Man United, but Newcastle weren’t finished, though they had Rob Elliot to thank for a superb save from Fellaini before Dummett’s late intervention.

A ball into the box was cleared as far as Dummett, who struck it from the egde of the box with his left foot to claim what could prove a hugely-important point.

The point in itself won’t change much for McClaren’s team, who are 18th in the league and a point adrift of safety ahead of Saturday’s home game against West Ham United.

But the manner of the fightback, and the character shown, will have buoyed McClaren and his players.

Man United manager Louis van Gaal felt Newcastle were “lucky”, but if they were fortunate, they had made their own luck for once this season.