Newcastle defence and Nick Pope made to work hard to earn point at Brighton

·2 min read
Nick Pope - Newcastle defence and Nick Pope made to work hard to earn point at Brighton - PA
Nick Pope - Newcastle defence and Nick Pope made to work hard to earn point at Brighton - PA

A goal-free afternoon in the burning sun, then. Such paucity of riches wasn’t, though, for the want of trying.

Brighton & Hove Albion created a hatful of chances in a contest they almost completely dominated, but a combination of Nick Pope, goal-line clearances, prodigal finishing, teak-tough Newcastle United defending and sheer bad luck denied them the winner that seemed imminent form first to last.

“I’m not happy with a point, but I accept it,” lamented Graham Potter, the Brighton head coach. “I loved our performance, I loved what the boys were trying to do.”

Sven Botman, the £32m signing, made a first start in Newcastle’s one-off colours, a fairly fetching teal-coloured number normally used for warm-ups, since all three of their standard kits somehow clashed with Brighton’s.

Newcastle would not create a chance of note until midway through the second period when Allan Saint-Maximin whipped in a vicious cross and Lewis Dunk’s alert reactions prevented Wilson from guiding it beyond Robert Sanchez.

Bruno Guimaraes and Moises Caicedo – - GETTY IMAGES
Bruno Guimaraes and Moises Caicedo – - GETTY IMAGES

“A difficult second half,” admitted Eddie Howe, the Newcastle head coach. “We were under the cosh, we rode our luck, but we dug in with spirit and unity. There’s a lot of work to be done,  but this was a great point.”

Brighton made the early running in energy-sapping conditions, although when Leandro Trossard’s delightful turn floored Kieran Trippier, the Belgian powered towards goal. His shot deflected off Fabian Schar to deceive Pope, who spilled and then pawed the ball from the incoming Danny Welbeck.

They came closer still in the 33rd minute when March drove for goal. Pope’s hand slowed it down and Trippier hacked off the line at the second attempt.

Pope was soon involved again, this time flinging himself to his left to tip aside Adam Lallana’s downwards header after Newcastle had once more neglected to beware the ideas of March.

In the 72nd minute, March, inevitably, got himself on the end of Enock Mwepu’s cross to guide a shot through a forest of legs only for Pope to block superbly. And when Pope was beaten late on after Joel Veltman’s shot deflected off Burn, Schar came to the rescue with another goal-line clearance.

One last moment of peril remained. As added time loomed, debutant substitute Kaoru Mitoma crossed low, only for last week’s hero, Pascal Gross, to poke wide of a gaping goal (“it looked easy, but it wasn’t”, argued Potter) and somehow the scoreline had remained blank.