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INSTANT REACTION: Newcastle United 2 - 2 Southampton

It could have been worse for Newcastle and it could have been better. At the end, it was an encouraging draw to open the Steve McClaren era.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

This Newcastle United team is a work in progress.  We're going to have wild swings of emotion.  There are going to be growing pains.  At the end of the day, though, the hope that we are going to be better – finally – is real.

Taking on a Southampton team that played in Holland on Thursday, Newcastle did what you would have wanted for them to do. They were in control for large chunks of the early stages of the match before Southampton took the lead off of a counterattacking move that ended with Graziano Pelle finding the space in a back line that had 0 match minutes together prior to the match.  It was against the run of play, as they say, and you'd be hoping that the defense won't be conceding those kind of goals in the long term, but instead of folding and conceding millions of goals, Newcastle came back into the match.

There was a hint of good fortune about Newcastle's equalizer, which came from Papiss Cisse – who had a very ordinary-to-poor match to that point – off of a deflected cross.  Going in to halftime at 1-1 was a very good feeling.  It was an even better feeling as Georginio Wijnaldum scored on his debut from a lovely cross from much-maligned Gabriel Obertan.  Gini's run and subsequent header sent Newcastle hopes and dreams soaring.

This Newcastle United team is a work in progress.  Long-standing problems are still problems.  It would be another cross and another header that would prove their undoing on this day as Shane Long (it had to be Shane Long, didn't it?)  found a gap between Daryl Janmaat and Chancel Mbemba that ultimately saved a point for Southampton.  If this match is played even a month from now, it's very likely that Newcastle take all 3 points from this.  It's frustrating today, but from 10,000 feet, this was a very, very encouraging performance.