There were five minutes remaining, and Tyneside was ready to celebrate after another tumultuous week, when Sam Vokes headed goalwards at the Gallowgate End of St James’ park.
Karl Darlow instinctively stuck out a left hand, his save deflected the ball onto the crossbar, it came down, hit the back of his head and went into the Newcastle goal.
Tyneside was once more left stunned with the events of its football club. This is not new.
Few clubs move through the emotional gears like Newcastle United; anger at missing out on Daniel Sturridge on Tuesday, the manager’s frustration, hope at the loan signing of Islam Slimani from Leicester on Wednesday, whizzed to the north east in Mike Ashley’s private jet, a banner unveiled before kick-off criticising the Newcastle owner.
And then a display that deserved to bring a first home win since October. Kenedy, a fine debutant and another January signing, striking the post after a curling effort was tipped onto the post at full stretch by Nick Pope as early as the 17th minute.
The same player winning a season’s first penalty that was then missed by Joselu. A rousing night, a fine display, until finally the home goalkeeper, likely replaced for the rest of the season by the loan signing of Martin Dubravka, headed into his own goal.
Pain was tangible when Vokes ran to celebrate. Newcastle are just a point above the relegation zone. It never seems easy.
Sean Dyche celebrated with his bench. His was a volatile performance as well.
The Burnley manager could not hide his fury in the 24th minute. First Paul Dummett appeared to stumble in the Newcastle penalty area and as he fell his body blocked Jack Cork. The raging Burnley manager was still voicing his anger at not being awarded a penalty when Ashley Barnes took a long ball down on his chest, nudged Jamaal Lascelles over and drilled his finish through the legs of Karl Darlow’s legs into the Newcastle goal. Barnes’ celebration was immediately cut short, and his manager’s mood darkened.
Barnes remained a handful, and there was a fine display from the left back Charlie Taylor, but it was a game that Newcastle dominated for long spells.
They should have won. They could have led by half-time.
Kennedy’s debut was one filled with promise. Benitez had chased the player throughout the summer, and the pace and direct approach bagged Newcastle their first penalty of the season in the 33rd minute.
Mikel Merino slipped the Brazilian through in front of the Gallowgate End and Phil Bardsley dragged the player down. With regular penalty take Matt Ritchie amongst the substitute’s bench, it was left to Joselu, a forward who has faced a battle to win over sections of the St James’ Park crowd, and his right footed spot-kick was too close to Nick Pope, the Burnley goalkeeper saving low to his left.
Still Newcastle came. In the 38th minute Ayoze Perez danced through and was blocked and then Kennedy’s cross to the far post was headed goalwards by Ciaran Clark and it took a fine, flying save by Pope to tip the effort over. Diame saw an acrobatic volley fly wide and by half-time, Burnley had been dominated to the extent they had still to record a shot on target.
Joselu headed over a Kenedy corner from the right at the start of the second half and then Barnes, at the other end, latched onto a flick-on and with the goal at his mercy curled a left footed shot over the bar.
Payback for that miss would come in the 65th minute. Once again Kenedy was the creator, sending over a right wing order and Lascelles timed his run perfectly, glancing a near post header into the Burnley goal.
Barnes curled another shot wide for the visitors, Joselu dragged one inches wide of the far post when put through by Jacob Murphy. It was end to end by now. Darlow did well to save a low Aaron Lennon shot at the far post.
Ben Mee saw his header deflected over for a corner, this time Kevin Long flicked on and Sam Vokes headed goalwards. Darlow tipped the effort onto the underside of his crossbar but the rebound looked to be going as it clipped the goalkeeper’s head.
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