Rafa Benitez has fresh meeting with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley met Rafa Benitez after Newcastle United's home defeat to Brighton, according to a report.

Ashley was at St James's Park for Saturday's home 1-0 loss.

It was the fourth successive game that Ashley, the club's owner had attended.

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Ashley didn't speak to Benitez after the fixtures against Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Manchester United.

However, the pair had a "brief conversation" after Beram Kayal's goal condemned United to a seventh Premier League defeat, according to The Times.

Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez.

The result left the club propping up the Premier League ahead of Saturday's game against Southampton at the St Mary's Stadium.

Benitez, forced to sell to buy in the summer, hopes to strengthen his squad in January's transfer window.

And the club's manager said Ashley's appearances at games should be seen as "positive" given that he has now seen for himself what needs to be done in the window.

Asked if it would be too late in January to turn things around, Benitez said: “If we do what we need to do we will win some games.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

“Once we win, that first game, our confidence will be higher and we can compete.

“We have shown against the top five that we can compete, but maybe we’ve not been lucky enough in the final third.”

Ashley took Benitez and his players out for a meal in a Ponteland restaurant earlier this month.

It was the first time the pair had spoken since the summer, when Ashley and Benitez became involved in a stand-off over transfer spending and a new contract.

Benitez's deal runs out next summer.

Meanwhile, former Newcastle chairman Chris Mort was at St James's Park for the Brighton game.