Newcastle remain winless, bottom of league after draw with Norwich
Norwich manager Dean Smith felt the decision to award Newcastle a second-half penalty in the Canaries’ 1-1 draw at St James’ Park was “pathetic”.
Callum Wilson put the Magpies ahead from the spot after Billy Gilmour was adjudged by the video assistant referee to have blocked Federico Fernandez’s header with his arm.
Teemu Pukki’s magnificent left-footed volley salvaged a point for the visitors late on, but Smith was unhappy with the manner of Newcastle’s opener.
“We’ve taken all responsibility away from the on-pitch official,” said the former Aston Villa boss. “He’s obviously seen that [the ball] has touched [Gilmour’s] arm. He’s seen the close proximity he was in and didn’t feel it was unnatural.
“If it takes 90 seconds to [overturn] a clear and obvious error – it’s pathetic for me.”
The Magpies had endured a nightmare start when Ciaran Clark was shown a ninth-minute red card for a professional foul on Norwich striker Pukki.
Howe’s team responded well to Clark’s dismissal – although Wilson’s spot-kick proved to be their only shot on target throughout the 90 minutes
Norwich’s best opportunity prior to Pukki’s equaliser fell to Josh Sargent, whose far-post shot was blocked by former Canaries player Jamal Lewis.
Pierre Lees-Melou almost capitalised on a Fabian Schar error in second-half stoppage time, but the Frenchman was denied by Martin Dubravka.
Newcastle remain rooted to the bottom of the table, while Norwich climb above Burnley into 18th place – three points from safety.
“I’m fortunate that I came into a club that had won their last game [under previous manager Daniel Farke],” added Smith. “We’ve managed to go three unbeaten since then, but we feel that we’ve lost two points here today.”
The challenge ahead is huge – Howe
Plenty of effort, but no much-needed victory for Magpies
Newcastle are just the fourth team to fail to win any of their first 14 games of a Premier League season – and none of the previous three managed to avoid relegation.
Howe described Tuesday’s game – his first in the Newcastle home dugout – as a “memorable moment” in his programme notes, but the early stages proved to be memorable for all the wrong reasons as Clark was given his marching orders.
The centre-back’s clearance was blocked by Pukki, who was then hauled to the floor by Clark with only goalkeeper Dubravka to beat.
Howe promptly replaced Ryan Fraser with defender Fernandez and switched to a 4-3-2 formation, which proved reasonably effective as the hosts continued to venture forward but failed to test Krul as Jonjo Shelvey, Joelinton and Wilson all blazed over the crossbar.
Norwich, for their part, struggled to make their numerical advantage count, with Sargent’s close-range effort their only clear-cut opening of the first half.
Understandably perhaps, Newcastle began to tire as the second period wore on. Wilson’s 61st-minute penalty put them within touching distance of a much-needed first win of the campaign, only for Pukki to salvage a precious point for the visitors.
Dubravka flapped at a 79th-minute cross into the Magpies penalty area and Dimitris Giannoulis picked out Pukki, who directed a fabulous strike into the top corner to silence the home crowd.
While Howe will be pleased with his team’s defensive resilience after Clark’s dismissal, Saturday’s game at home to second-bottom Burnley now takes on even greater importance.
The rest of December looks ominous for Newcastle, with games against Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton looming large on the horizon.
The Canaries, meanwhile, have collected eight points from a possible 12 in the league – their longest unbeaten run in the top flight since February 2013.