The year ended on a dour note for Newcastle and Brighton as they played out to an uninspiring 0-0 draw at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Newcastle 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 0
Few clear-cut chances on Tyneside
Knockaert shoots straight at Darlow
Ryan keeps out Gayle’s header
Hayden’s deflected shot palmed behind
Magpies boss Rafael Benitez was criticised for not showing enough intent in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City last time out after resting a number of his players in midweek, but the hosts weren’t much better against the Seagulls.
Matt Ryan pulled off two superb saves to deny the Tynesiders what would have been a cruel winner. and in the end two teams had to settle for a share of the spoils in their final game of 2017.
FULL TIME Newcastle United 0-0 Brighton
It ends goalless at St. James’ Park and both sides are forced to settle for a point.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) December 30, 2017
The football on display in the first half was poor to say the least, with both keepers required to make just one save each.
A quiet opening brought no chances until the 17th minute when Shane Duffy steered a header over the crossbar from a corner, while good work from Ryan at the other end five minutes later saw him cut out Dwight Gayle’s low cross and prevent Joselu from latching onto the rebound.
Anthony Knockaert was unable to capitalise on a weak clearance out of defence in the 26th minute as he fired straight at Karl Darlow from the top of the D, and Duffy blazed wide of the right post from 17 yards out after the Toon failed to clear a corner on the half-hour mark.
Mikel Merino was well off target with a shot from range seven minutes later when the hosts broke forward and ball rebounded into his path from Gayle’s initial strike, while Joselu dragged an effort wide of the left post from 22 yards out after shifting to his right to make space for a shot on 40 minutes.
The final chance of the first half fell to Duffy as he rose highest at a corner to head over the crossbar, and there was little improvement after the restart.
The Magpies showed some purpose in the opening stages of the second half as Isaac Hayden latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the box and saw his shot take a deflection off Lewis Dunk that Ryan smartly tipped around the left post on 49 minutes.
Darlow was presented with a routine save from Christian Gross’ 54th-minute free-kick, while Ryan had to be at his best to parry away Gayle’s glancing header from Christian Atsu’s pin-point cross four minutes later.
Dunk then forced Darlow into a fine one-handed save with his header on 69 minutes after being teed up by Duffy’s knockdown from a corner, and Atsu summed up the dire encounter when he surged forward and blasted well wide of the target from range two minutes from time.
FT: Albion secure another @premierleague point on the road. Ryan made two brilliant saves to keep the game level. Dunk and Duffy both went close, but neither side could find a breakthrough. #NUFC 0 #BHAFC 0 #NEWBHA ?⚪️ pic.twitter.com/I7EDUFbcxf
— Brighton & Hove Albion ⚽️ (@OfficialBHAFC) December 30, 2017