Arrived in Preston and went to the Moorbrook – a great pub. If they had somewhere like this in Newcastle it would be full every week. Pizza oven on the go (6 quid) and burgers with an outside bar in the beer garden.
Preston itself seemed ok, the ground was great. 7000 fans, probably roughly 50-50 split and with a good bar area (although they ran out of pints at half time and warm fosters bottles were the only option – not great!)
As pre-season workouts go, this was not a classic. Newcastle started with the purpose of moving the ball well, Shelvey looking to bring mbemba in to the game, and Dummett on the other side. Aarons made a break, pulled it back to Dummett, his shot couldn’t be held and Mitrovic turned the ball in.
As often seen last season Newcastle then seemed to allow Preston plenty of time on the ball, standing off somewhat. After 30 mins a corner came in and the big Serbian controlled it on his chest, turned and fired it against the post, which from the away end looked an impossible angle. Siem de Jong seems to have got slower having been away, when the goalkeeper misplaced his clearance it fell to him he had the chance to shoot, delayed and two defenders beat him to his own touch. At the back Preston were causing Newcastle plenty problems from that point on. The defence seemed incapable of judging crosses and when one came to the back post Barkhuzien forced it home unmarked. Jordan Hugill in particular from this point was causing Mbemba, Hanley and Lejeune problems. The defence didn’t look organised, and Elliott didn’t seem to be communicating with them at all.
The last 15 mins of the first half Newcastle looked poor, Preston upped the tempo and United seemed to see it as a training exercise rather than any competitive nature. Having said that Mitrovic still looked lively, winning headers and flicking on or holding up but with nobody moving around him.
Halftime arrived and 8 changes were made. Murphy was given a chance wide right, he seems to have raw pace and looks happy to run at people but when switched to the left he looked uncomfortable trying to go past on his right side. Clark took the armband from Shelvey and the arrival of Hayden and Yedlin seemed to give the team an impetus. Dwight Gayle had two great chances but couldn’t convert either.
At this point the away end became distracted by events just behind where I was stood. There were shouts for stewards and police, who were extremely slow to react to a confrontation which then became violent for what looked like no genuine reason. Three or four people were then taken from the stand. Needless to say although alcohol was involved it is an embarrassment to our club to see fans fighting amongst themselves.
The rest of the game saw some chances at both ends – Callum Roberts came on and played both left wing and left back. Freddie Woodman arrived after Darlow had 25 mins, he was kept busy by Preston and made two or three good saves. One in particular very brave at the feet of the striker. Newcastle had the odd chance – de Jong missed a great one, Mbemba had two difficult chances which were well saved and blocked. Hayden looked industrious, and Colback hasn’t lost his willingness to sometimes give away silly fouls. Perez improved as the game went on but chances for us were few and far between. Manquillo was introduced and did ok, but we still looked disrupted and if one team were to go on and win it was Preston.
If either of the teams who played for us were the first eleven for next season or were to start against Spurs I would be worried. It is evident that we still need another striker and to also find a way of playing through teams who have worked us out. Mitrovic bullied the defenders but Gayle was feeding on scraps and long balls up to him are not the answer. A good workout but it raised more questions than answers
Personal highlight a fan just before the second half kicked off, offering Prestons keeper a bite of his pie. The response “id love to but I’m watching my weight”.
Man of the match (for us) – Mitrovic (if he could play Preston every week ….)
Newcastle United: Rob Elliot (Karl Darlow 46 [Woodman 70]), Paul Dummett (Ciaran Clark 46), Chancel Mbemba, Florian Lejeune (Javier Manquillo 76), Grant Hanley (Yedlin 46), Jonjo Shelvey (Colback 46), Mo Diame (Hayden 46), Siem De Jong (Roberts 62), Rolando Aarons (Murphy 46), Christian Atsu (Perez 46), Alexsander Mitrovic (Gayle 46).
No Unused Subs.
STEPHEN ORD – Follow Stephen at @smord84
Gateshead 0 Newcastle United U-23s 3, International Stadium. Att: 622.
There was a disappointing turnout for the traditional pre-season game at Gateshead which was a shame as Tyneside’s two most prominent clubs served up a competitive encounter which wasn’t the stroll the scoreline suggests. There were some meaty challenges and at times some needle between the sides which thankfully never boiled over. Peter Beardsley’s team did have the edge and controlled the ball better but Gateshead were well-organised and committed. One of Graeme Carr’s signings of a couple of seasons ago, Ivan Toney led the line for United and whilst he looked head and shoulders better than anything else on the park, it remains to be seen if he’ll ever make it in the PL. In somewhat typical Tyneside summer conditions (it was pissing down) United racked up three quite well taken goals courtesy of Yasin Ben El-Mhanni (11 mins), Victor Fernandez (44 mins) and Dan Ward (59 mins).
Personal highlights for my match-going mate and I were the purchases of Gateshead FC key-rings. We know how to live.
There’s another chance to see this team down at Whitley Bay at Hillheads on Tuesday, 25/Jul/2017. KO: 7pm. Admission is £6 adults, £4 kids and OAPs. Its a good way to put an evening in.
MICHAEL MARTIN – Follow Michael on @tfMichael1892