After seven hours and 32 minutes, Loic Remy ended Newcastle
United’s goal drought and a run of five successive home defeats as Aston
Villa were denied a precious point in stoppage time.
Remy had missed several easier chances than the one he took, taking control of
Luuk De Jong’s deflected shot, twisting one way and then the other to put
Ron Vlaar on his backside and then crashing a shot past Brad Guzan.
It was a goal Newcastle just about deserved after a spirited second-half
performance, but Villa will feel they should have held on for the draw.
Newcastle had lost their last five home games and with it both their
confidence and composure. Villa sensed their unease. Having weathered an
early flurry of Newcastle attacks, in which both Loic Remy and Papiss Demba
Cisse forced saves from Brad Guzan, the visitors began to overwhelm the
Magpies in midfield.
It gave the visitors dominance of possession and territory and it should have
enabled them to take the lead. Karim El Ahmadi’s cutback just evaded
Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann before the Moroccan dragged a shot of
his own wide.
Newcastle’s defence began to wobble and Gabriel Agbonlahor also went close
twice, his first effort well saved by Tim Krul after he had the time and
space inside the area to control Fabian Delph’s cross, the second when the
defence backed off and he sent a shot fizzing over the bar from 20 yards.
Newcastle’s game disintegrated as their supporters grew restless. This was not
the response they had been promised by Pardew and, if anything, things were
even worse than before. Aimless long balls were punted forward, simple
passes were misguided and there was a general sloppiness in their play that
is inexcusable in these parts.
Remy tried to lift them out of their malaise, a nice piece of skill on the
edge of the area drawing a foul from Ron Vlaar, but he curled the resulting
free-kick just wide of the far post.
It was a rare moment of excitement for those in black and white stripes,
although their manager will have been relieved his defence ended the
first-half looking a lot more solid than it had been at the start.
For all of their problems, Newcastle should have been in front in stoppage
time, Remy setting up Cisse, but the Senegal international’s first time shot
went over when everyone inside the stadium expected the net to bulge. It was
the sort of chance Cisse has been missing all season.
Newcastle were better after the break and, slowly but surely, they began to
build up a head of attacking steam.
Yoan Gouffran pulled a shot wide after a surging run from Moussa Sissoko and
volleyed another good chance into the Gallowgate End. Paul Dummett also went
close with a shot from the edge of the area.
The home crowd finally had a team worth getting behind, but Villa’s
centre-backs, Vlaar and Nathan Baker defended brilliantly. Newcastle
continued to probe for an opening, Remy denied by Guzan, referee Martin
Atkinson turning down a penalty appeal after Fabricio Coloccini had kicked
the ball against Leandro Bacuna’s hand.
Villa were occasionally dangerous on the counter, Mike Williamson doing well
to cut out Benteke’s pass to Agbonlahor, Andreas Weimann deciding to shoot
when he should have passed to Benteke.
With less than three minutes left on the clock, Vlaar almost threw all of
Villa’s hardwork away, losing the ball to Luuk De Jong inside his own area.
The Dutchman squared to Remy, but the France international’s shot came back
off the post. He should have scored. He did a few minutes later.