EDDIE HOWE’S Covid test remains the only positive result of Newcastle’s season.
Self-isolating in a Tyneside hotel, the new Toon boss is already in need of a minor miracle to keep Toon up.
Saint-Maximin rescued a point for Newcastle against newly promoted Brentford[/caption]
Saint-Maximin celebrates scoring the equaliser for Newcastle[/caption]
Onyeka thought he had won the game for the visitors[/caption]
There may well have been positives from this bonkers draw with Brentford.
But a point in a game billed as a must-win against the struggling Bees does nothing – especially when other results couldn’t have gone worse.
Wins for Norwich, Watford and Aston Villa, and a draw for Burnley leaves Newcastle desperate and rock bottom.
As Howe tucked into his room service there would have been things to brighten his mood.
Three goals and plenty of chances is a place to build from, even if the defence looks as flaky as it ever has.
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Jamaal Lascelles made it the perfect start before Ivan Toney equalised just over a minute later.
Rico Henry put the Bees ahead but Joelinton – in surely his best game in a Magpies shirt – pegged them back before half-time.
Lascelles scored an own goal to make it 3-2 with 30 minutes remaining, and it looked like being the start from hell for Howe.
Allan Saint-Maximin levelled it up again to leave it honours even, but that just doesn’t quite cut it when you’re winless after 12 games.
Still the only team without a victory, this is the first time in their history they have failed to win any of their opening six home games.
How Howe watched is anyone’s guess given it was not on TV, but given piracy was the sticking point over the Saudi Arabia-led takeover, it shouldn’t have been hard for him to find a dodgy stream.
Having prepared and picked the team before testing positive on Friday, he made three changes for his first game in charge.
Fabian Schar, Joe Willock and Joelinton were in, with Emil Krafth, Isaac Hayden and Miguel Almiron dropping to the bench.
And while Howe may have been watching on from afar, the Toon Army were not going to let the opportunity to welcome him slide.
A huge banner in the Gallowgate End displayed before kick-off read: “Eddie Howe’s Black and White Army….This is our house, this is Newcastle”.
Joelinton got himself a rare goal but missed a glorious chance that could have won the game[/caption]
As the new manager’s name rang around St James’ Park early on, the players flew out of the blocks and had the lead after 10 minutes.
Callum Wilison had already headed one inches wide before Lascelles struck.
Matt Ritchie’s inswinging corner was right on the money and the skipper used all his bulk to overpower Vitaly Janelt and nod in off the post.
Seventy-six seconds and 10 passes later and the Bees were level via ex-Toon striker Toney, who was sold by Rafa Benitez to Peterborough in 2018.
Toney flicked on from a lump upfield and worked his way to the right of the box undetected.
His low shot across goal should have been meat and drink for Karl Darlow, but instead it embarrassingly went straight through his hands.
Toney then had another ruled out for offside but the Bees were on top and 2-1 up 31 minutes in.
With wingers Matt Ritchie and Jacob Murphy at wing-back, it doesn’t take a genius to work out they can be exploited.
Ritchie failed to stop Sergi Canos’ deep cross from the right before Murphy completely switched off to allow Henry to creep in at the back post to fire Brentford ahead.
Joelinton – to the surprise of everyone inside St James’ – was Toon’s best player in the first-half by a distance, and the Brazilian pegged the Magpies back level six minutes before the break.
Toney celebrates his goal against his old club[/caption]
Allan Saint-Maximin’s blocked shot fell into his path and the £40million Brazilian took one touch before leathering into the bottom corner off his left peg from 12 yards.
It was breathless stuff but slowed down after the break with neither side creating anything until the hour when Saint-Maximin flashed one just wide.
But just as Newcastle looked the most likely to bag a third, up popped Brentford sub Onyeka.
Two minutes after coming on for Saman Ghoddos, Murphy and Jonjo Shelvey both failed to deal with Henry.
Onyeka bent the loose ball towards the far corner, and it looked to be drifting wide before it took a wicked deflection off the hapless Lascelles to deceive Darlow.
The 50,000 Geordies were silenced, another day starting with so much in serious threat of being ruined.
But Howe, in constant dialogue with the bench throughout, had one more ace up his sleeve in the form of Ryan Fraser.
Newcastle’s own super-sub, the Scot had been on for four minutes before he picked it up from Saint-Maximin on the right.
His cross to the back post was inch-perfect, allowing the French winger to meet it on the volley and side-foot through Alvaro Fernandez.
St James’ was alive again, and Saint-Maximin danced through the Bees and put Joelinton in on goal to be the hero.
Despite how good he was earlier, the Brazilian reverted to type and completely fluffed his lines, trying to bring it onto his left foot before the chance had gone.
And that was that, a point against a side who had lost their previous four games to leave them bringing up the rear.
And with no manager on site for the upcoming week’s training and the trip to Arsenal, perilous doesn’t even half do their situation justice.
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