Newcastle United fans make their feelings clear on Mike Ashley – and Callum Wilson
Newcastle United fans haven’t had much to shout about so far this summer, but that didn’t stop them loudly backing their team at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Steve Bruce’s side were backed by an away following for the first time in more than 16 months tonight.
United’s’s 3,145-strong following saw Bruce’s side beat Doncaster Rovers 3-2 in an entertaining game.
The opening of the away turnstiles was another step towards normality after a season of sterile behind-closed-doors football.
On the field, at least, Newcastle, beaten by non-league York City last weekend, took a small stride forward against the League One club after being raucously welcomed on to the pitch.
There were anti-Mike Ashley chants, but none against head coach Bruce. United’s fans, desperate for progress on the takeover front, may not like the regime, but they’ve always backed their team.
Bruce, without Matt Ritchie and Joelinton through injury, and Yoshinori Muto through illness, started named a strong starting XI at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The squad, however, hasn’t yet been strengthened so far this summer, and is weaker without loanee Joe Willock.
Understandably, supporters – who this week learnt that an all-important takeover arbitration hearing had been put back to next year – are concerned, and Bruce, up to now, hasn’t been able to give them much encouragement on the transfer front.
United’s fans had plenty of encouragement for their team, which was much sharper in the early stages than it had been against York, and Ryan Fraser gave the club a ninth-minute lead with a fierce low drive.
The backing from the away end didn’t let up as Doncaster, with two trialists in their starting XI, attempted to get back into the game.
Newcastle got themselves further ahead midway through the half thanks to a close-range strike from Sean Longstaff after good work from Allan Saint-Maximin on the left.
Doncaster pulled a goal back – Tommy Rowe netted after Dan Langley parried a deflected shot to him – and played their part in an entertaining first 45 minutes, which also saw Louis Jones deny Callum Wilson.
Saint-Maximin was at the heart of United’s best attacking moments. The team played without intensity and fluency against York, but Saint-Maximin, a substitute in the first friendly, drove them up the pitch.
Callum Wilson made it 3-1 after the break, and the clubs fans serenaded him throughout the second half. The striker, a year on from his move to Newcastle, has finally heard the club’s fans in full voice.
Bruce, still without Graeme Jones following his assistant’s stint with England this summer, sent on Dwight Gayle and Matty Longstaff, whose brother Sean was fielded as a second striker following the changes.
Ryan Fraser had a chance for a fourth goal, but he put a Jacob Murphy cross over the bar. Doncaster pulled another goal back through Omar Bogle.
Jack Young and Matty Bondswell made their first-team debuts late in the game.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Langley, Murphy (Allan, 82), Lascelles (Watts, 82), Dummett (Clark, 70), Lewis (Bondswell, 85), Hayden (Fernandez, 57), Hendrick, S Longstaff, Fraser (Young 76), Saint-Maximin (Gayle, 67), Wilson (M Longstaff, 67). Subs not used: Thompson, McEntee.