Newcastle United fans round on Steve Bruce after defensive lapse proves costly against Watford
Newcastle United’s search for a win goes on after a defensive lapse cost them against Watford.
Steve Bruce’s side were held to a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road after Ismaila Sarr cancelled out Sean Longstaff’s stunning first-half opener with a 72nd-minute header.
And the result means Newcastle are 17th in the Premier League with three points from six games.
The game was again punctuated by chants of “we want Brucie out” from United’s fans unhappy with a winless start to the season.
Supporters also rounded on owner Mike Ashley following a summer transfer window which saw the club only sign one player, Joe Willock.
Willock, surprisingly, made Newcastle’s starting XI. The midfielder had been ruled out by Bruce on the eve of the game with a toe injury, but was passed fit to play after asking to join the club’s final training session.
Otherwise, Federico Fernandez replaced Jamaal Lascelles – the defender also took the captain’s armband from his injured team-mate – and 18-year-old midfielder Elliot Anderson was named among the substitutes.
Bruce also switched to a back four following last week’s mid-game change against Leeds United. Isaac Hayden returned to midfield following a stint in a five-man defence.
Newcastle, after an early scare which saw Karl Darlow deny Emmanuel Dennis, quickly settled into the game, and attacked well down the left, where Joelinton linked well with Matt Ritchie.
Bruce had praised Sean Longstaff before the game, and the breakthrough came from the midfielder’s right foot.
Allan Saint-Maximin rolled the ball to Longstaff more than 20 yards from goal after collecting an over-hit corner. The 23-year-old looked up and beat Ben Foster with a superb curled shot which nestled in the top right-hand corner of the home net.
It was Longstaff’s first strike since he netted in a 4-1 win over Bournemouth in July last year.
Longstaff – who has been in and out of Bruce’s team since then – had a chance to double United’s advantage before the break after Saint-Maximin seized on a back pass, but he shot over.
Newcastle took their one-goal advantage into the second half.
Willock looked in some discomfort at one point – he took his boot off and felt his toe – but was able to play on.
Watford pressed for an equaliser after the restart, but United reacted well. They pushed for a second goal, and Foster denied Miguel Almiron and Joelinton, and Willock also forced a save after Saint-Maximin set him free with a superb pass.
However, the hosts weren’t finished, and Sarr, unmarked, equalised with a far-post header after Josh King flicked on a corner.
There was late drama as a goal from King was ruled out for offside following a VAR check.
Fans again chanted against Bruce as United’s players saw out the final few minutes to claim a hard-fought point.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, S Longstaff, Willock (Gayle, 83), Almiron (Murphy, 79), Joelinton, Saint-Maximin. Subs not used: Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Fraser, Anderson.