Newcastle 0-0 Brighton: Points shared in St James' Park stalemate
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 30/12/17 6:41pm
Newcastle and Brighton shared the spoils as they played out an uninspiring 0-0 draw in the Premier League at St James' Park.
Rafa Benitez made seven changes to his side following criticism in midweek for resting some of his usually key men against Manchester City.
But the returning players failed to have the desired impact in a scrappy contest, although Newcastle shaded the efforts and were denied some early second-half opportunities by Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
Newcastle fall to 16th place on 19 points - one above the relegation places - while Brighton stay in 12th with 22 points.
Newcastle: Darlow (7), Yedlin (6), Clark (7), Dummett (6), Lascelles (7), Ritchie (6), Hayden (6), Merino (6), Gayle (6), Atsu (6), Joselu (6).
Subs used: Perez (4), Shelvey (5), Murphy (n/a).
Brighton: Ryan (8), Bruno (6), Bong (6), Dunk (7), Duffy (7), Stephens (6), Knockaert (6), Gross (7), March (6), Propper (6), Murray (6).
Subs used: Hemed (5).
Man of the match: Mat Ryan.
The first half lacked in quality, but Newcastle had opportunities to break the deadlock. Isaac Hayden made a superb run down the right flank in the 13th minute before whipping the ball into the box, but his delivery evaded the heads of Dwight Gayle and Christian Atsu with Bruno sending the ball away.
Nine minutes later and Ryan was eventually tested as Mikel Merino's brilliant long ball picked out the run of Gayle on the right. He latched onto the pass before getting to the by-line and cutting the ball back into the middle, but the hand of Ryan kept it from reaching another Newcastle player before pouncing on the rebound ahead of the waiting Joselu.
Newcastle retained four players from their loss to Man City, with DeAndre Yedlin, Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett and Joselu keeping their places. Brighton made five changes with Bruno, Gaetan Bong, Anthony Knockaert, Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray coming into the side.
Karl Darlow also got a rare hold of the ball in the 27th minute as Brighton had a spell of pressure around the box. Pascal Gross sped away down the right-hand side before hitting a low cross into the box, but Matt Ritchie's attempted clearance could only fall to Anthony Knockaert at the top of the area. However, his strike was straight at the Newcastle stopper.
Newcastle began the second half well, but were once again denied by some heroics from Ryan. Five minutes after the restart and a cleared corner fell to Hayden at the top of the box, with his scuffed shot taking a big deflection off the leg of Dunk to send it goalwards. Ryan then leapt into action to spare the blushes of his team-mate and push away the ball.
The Brighton goalkeeper was called into action again in the 59th minute as Atsu picked out Gayle in between the two Seagulls centre-backs. The forward glanced his delivery towards goal, but Ryan made another leaping save to deny him the opener.
In a similar story to the first half, Brighton also tested Darlow 10 minutes later. Shane Duffy met a Gross corner at the back post, nodding it down for Dunk in the middle, but his own headed effort was palmed away by the Newcastle goalkeeper.
- Newcastle have now won just one point in their last six Premier League home games at St James' Park (W0 D1 L5).
- This was the fourth time that Brighton have drawn 0-0 in the Premier League this season; a joint-league-high alongside WBA.
- In fact, this was the 11th time that Brighton have failed to score in 21 Premier League games this season; the most in the competition level with Crystal Palace and Swansea City.
- Newcastle made seven changes to their starting XI in this match (from their last game vs Man City) - this is the most that a side has made in a Premier League game this season.
Rafa Benitez: "Obviously we are not happy because we wanted to win. We created a little bit, but not too much, and they were well organised, so it was difficult to break them down.
"I think in the second half, we had more chances and we were pushing harder so this is the positive thing. The reaction of the team is that if something is wrong then they don't give up and they continue, so that is a positive too."
Chris Hughton: "I thought we were good today. In regards to the result, I think on the balance of play, it was a fair result but on the day, I thought we were the better side of the two.
"In terms of chances, we needed Mat Ryan in particular to make one very good save and it got very edgy towards the end as it would do away at Newcastle. I thought we had some really good periods in the game."
Phil Thompson: "The performance was not of the level you would want [from Newcastle]. Particularly after making seven changes to the side. And they never really got going.
"They had two chances, Brighton had one chance. And Mat Ryan was up for the save. The first one was a bit of a fluke. Isaac Hayden took a shot and it takes a deflection, the goalkeeper has to change his position and he does really, really well to save it."
Man of the match - Mat Ryan
Another solid performance from Ryan - who could be the difference for the Seagulls this season - even if his team could not produce the goods at the other end.
Although he was a spectator for much of the game as Newcastle often dragged shots well wide of his range, he pulled off some superb saves when called upon and was vital to securing a point for Brighton early in the second half.
Both teams are back in action on New Year's Day, with Newcastle travelling to Stoke at 3pm and Brighton hosting Bournemouth in the early kick-off, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 12pm.