Newcastle and Southampton, separated by just three points in the table, and the two played to an appropriate 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Newcastle didn't have much possession against Southampton in the first half, but they made it count. Newcastle had just 34% of the possession, but they looked dangerous on counter-attacks. They earned four corner kicks within the first five minutes and took six shots in the opening 45 minutes. It was Yoan Gouffran who opened the scoring today, as he was able to dance around the Saints' keeper to slide home his fourth goal of the season. Mike Williamson put on a little flick after a free kick, and Southampton's defense handled it poorly. But, their mistake was Newcastle's gain and it was 1-0 to the home side.
Vernun Anita continued to show why he deserves a spot in the starting line-up moments after Gouffran's goal. Anita made some dazzling moves down the right side to get the ball into the box. Finding a bit of space, he played the ball back to the top of the penalty area. Much to the chagrin of the supporters (and probably the surprise of Anita) no one made a run in the box and the moment of brilliance was left without the exclamation point it deserved.
Southampton's Jay Rodriguez brought the teams on equal terms in the 65'. Southampton put on an excellent counter-attack, and Newcastle could not get back into position before Rodriguez scored. The score came just minutes after Rodriguez rocked the woodwork with a fine shot off the half-volley.
Remy should have put Newcastle back in front in the 72'. The Southampton keeper gave the ball away to Remy, who had all sorts of time. However, he pushed the shot well wide on the short side and the chance was left wanting.
The last few minutes made the draw much more interesting. The referee, Mike Jones, was inadvertently struck by Moussa Sissoko. Sissoko was reacting to a push from Southampton's goalkeeper, when his hand struck Jones' nose. The added time on for Jones' injury would come into play when deep in stoppage time, the benches erupted into a brief brawl following a vicious tackle on Massadio Haidara. Two coaches were sent off, and Newcastle's free kick led to nothing.
In the end, it was a hard fought draw. Both teams might consider themselves happy with the draw, but given how dangerous each side looked, even in the second half, perhaps both teams will see two points left on the table.
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