On Saturday, Newcastle drew 0-0 with Birmingham at St Andrews’ Stadium. However, because of Brighton’s 2-0 loss to Leeds, Newcastle remain top of the table and a point clear of Brighton.
Newcastle fielded a side of Karl Darlow in net; Anita, Lascelles, Hanley, and Dummett in defence; Ritchie, Diame, Colback, and Gouffran in midfield; with Perez and Murphy up front. The biggest talking point of the selection was the dropping of Jonjo Shelvey. Benitez said that Shelvey has had a fever this week and wasn’t able to play the majority of the match.
Birmingham played a team consisting of Kuszczak, Bielik, Shotton, Robinson, Nsue, Davis, Tesche, Kieftenbeld, Grounds, Gardner and Jutkiewicz.
Birmingham’s first attack came 15 minutes in when Jutkiewicz put in a cross but Nsue just couldn’t get on the end of it and turn the ball into the back of the net, Newcastle defenders then cleared the ball from danger. The away side should’ve made it 1-0 when Murphy flicked the ball on for Perez who didn’t connect with the ball correctly. Again, Jutkiewicz should have broken the deadlock when he put a half-volley into the side netting, relief for Newcastle. The scores were seemingly opened when Ritchie turned in a loose ball after a scrap in the box right before half time but the linesman ruled the goal out for offside. That brought an end to the first half.
Murphy almost struck lucky when he powered a header towards goal but keeper Kuszczak pushed the ball away. Gayle could have opened the scoring when Colback’s shot bobbled through the sky and Gayle almost headed the ball in. Ritchie tried his luck from 20 yards and almost got lucky when his shot drifted past the post. This brought an end to the match with the scores ending 0-0. Newcastle should count themselves unlucky as Kuszczak decided to turn into prime Buffon and their efforts weren’t helped by the absence of Shelvey for the majority of the match but at the end of the day, Newcastle are still top of the league.
Feature image credit: Martin Le Roy