Newcastle United 1 Atalanta B.C. 0, 

Wood (pen – 39) 

St James’ Park, 29/Jul/22, KO: 7;45, Pre-season friendly, Att: 40,596

Match report from Alex Hurst – @TFAlex1892 at St James’ Park

Two home games within 24 hours is the kind of thing a 13-year-old me would dream about. Last time we did this sort of crazy approach to the game was under SBR when Rangers and Sporting Lisbon were here and the year was 2004 (I think). Jurgen Klopp is (probably) furious that our lads have been allowed to play football without the full compliment or Jurgen Klopp approved allocated days between games.

He needn’t have worried as Eddie Howe (who probably won’t sleep between games) ended the speculation around if lads would be turning out twice in 15 hours by not naming any of Wilson, Botman, ASM, Bruno or Willock I m the squad. See you tomorrow lads.

New concourse design, safe standing in the lower tier of the away end and around 30 away fans still shit-housed in Level 7. Everything we wanted for the new season.

Make no mistake 40,506 is a massive crowd for a game to watch the first choice back five try and deal with the second choice (bar Miggy maybe?) front 6 in front of them. £20 a ticket too. That concourse paint doesn’t pay for itself.

As we kicked off it was nice to see: Trippier getting more game time. Dan Burn back at the back with his partner in dominating forward lines, a Nick Pope SJP debut, some nice flags, Howe and Tindall back patrolling their six yard area be a bench full of young lads getting their first taste of being involved in a first team fixture at SJP.

The first half was good. Intensity from both sides; pressing aplenty from us and Miguel Almiron looking like a fine footballer.

The defence was solid, Atlanta looked decent and the game settled into a middle of the pitch affair with both sides looking rusty in attack.

The worst player of the half for United got a chance to grab a goal from the spot after good work in the box from Elliot Anderson. There’s something about Anderson that suggests he’ll have a career at this level.

His work in and around their penalty area was excellent. I’m not sure he’s got the legs or physique to play CM but that may come in time. He did really well. I’d loan him out and let him play every week and keep getting better.

Chris Wood was dreadful. I don’t want him to be. I want to like him. He seems like a nice bloke. However he’s so easily outmuscled on the ground and erratic in the air. We have problems if he’s going to play lots of games this season. Hope I’m wrong.

1-0 to us at half time. Decent half and we deserved it. It’s a slight worry that we don’t really test their keeper but with a second string front six there’s probably not loads to read into it.

The second half was decent again. Almiron and the excellent Anderson tested their keeper and Pope was mostly a spectator. Our back 5 were superb. Encouraging as that’s predominantly what made us so good last season under Howe. Like many home games at SJP last year the home side ended up sitting on their lead with relative ease.

What did we learn from this first of two games? Not loads we didn’t know pre-game but that’s encouraging. We’re still good defensively.

Elliot Anderson is a real talent and Miguel Almiron looks really good right now. Sean Longstaff is getting there.

Looking forward to tomorrow and then the real thing a week Saturday.

Alex Hurst – @TFAlex1892