This was the big frustration for Steve Bruce – and Newcastle United's fans

Another defeat, but this one wasn’t nearly so disheartening.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 10:52 pm
Jonjo Shelvey celebrates his goal.

Newcastle United were tonight beaten 2-1 by Crystal Palace at a wind and rain-lashed St James’s Park. This loss, an 12th in 13 games in all competitions, was hard to take for those watching at home.

The club remains just eight points above the relegation zone, and third-bottom Fulham have two games in hand.

Steve Bruce’s side must start making their own luck between now and the end of the season, but there were positives to take from this defeat.

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The frustration for Bruce and his players will have been the ease with which Palace scored their two goals – and their inability to break down a stubborn team after the break.

Still, the team looked nothing like the moribund side which had gone 11 games without a win, and the inter-play between Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron again caught the eye on a bitterly cold Tyneside evening.

Allan Saint-Maximin came off the bench just past the hour-mark, but the winger couldn’t conjure up an equaliser.

Bruce had made one change – Ciaran Clark replaced the injured captain Jamaal Lascelles in the starting XI – for the game, which followed an impressive 2-0 success over Everton at the weekend.

The game came less than 24 hours after the transfer window closed following the deadline day arrival of midfielder Joe Willock from Arsenal on loan. Willock, however, joined too late to face Palace.

Graeme Jones had been front and centre at Goodison Park, where he issued instructions alongside United's head coach. However, Jones, Bruce’s new assistant, took a seat in the stand for the first half along with fellow coach Ben Dawson.

And Jones got a great view of Shelvey’s strike in the second minute. The midfielder struck a half-volley with his right foot after Wilson headed the ball to him on the edge of the box.

Jones then joined Bruce in the dugout amid a downpour at a sodden St James’s Park. Newcastle’s lead didn’t last, as defensive mistakes let Palace back in.

Jairo Riedewald got to a loose ball before Almiron and struck a powerful shot which was deflected past Karl Darlow in the 21st minute. Then, Gary Cahill lost his marker to meet an Eberechi Eze free-kick with his head.

It was quite a turnaround. Still, United reacted well to going behind. Wilson and Fraser, passed fit to play after recovering from a bout of illness, caused problems with their pace and movement.

Palace, as ever under Roy Hodgson, were organised and disciplined, and Newcastle had to be patient.

Bruce sent out an unchanged side for the second half, and United pressed on. Palace themselves were a threat on the break – Wilfried Zaha threatened down the left until his withdrawal – but United saw more of the ball as their visitors retreated.

Saint-Maximin replaced Jeff Hendrick in the 63rd minute, and Andy Carroll, another substitute, had a late header saved.

Newcastle must now pick themselves up and get ready to go again at home against Southampton, beaten 9-0 by Manchester United.

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