James Perch

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter


James Perch believes it was crucial to get Europa League points on the board as soon as possible, as United kicked off their Group D campaign with an away draw.

The Magpies were goalless with Maritimo on Thursday night, although the scoreline doesn't tell the whole story from the Estadio dos Barreiros, where the visitors were denied by the woodwork three times.

However, there were chances at both ends and Perch believes a draw was a fair - and satisfying - result.

"It was very important to get off to a good start, and we've done just that," he told nufc.co.uk following the final whistle.

"When you look at the teams in our group, this is one where we thought we could get something away from home.

"Maybe asking for three points was a bit too much because they put us under a lot of pressure at times, but we had a few good chances of our own too.

"We didn't get a win, but we got a point which we are very pleased with and we will take it into the next game."

On a tough pitch and in hot temperatures, Newcastle matched their Madeira-based opponents throughout.

And Perch was proud of the performance by a young, inexperienced line-up who will have given manager Alan Pardew plenty of food for thought.

Perch said: "If you look at their record at home, not many peope get results here so it's a tough place to come.

"With the conditions and everything like that, it's totally different to what we are used to back home.

"European football is still quite new to a lot of us and we are a young team, but I thought we coped with it well.

"We matched them. We had players who played on Monday night for the first team and some who played on Tuesday for the Under 21s, but everybody put in a shift."

And Perch had a final word for goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who excelled in only his second game for the Club with a string of top-class saves.

"Rob was brilliant tonight," he said.

"He's come in, having not played for the first team in a long time, and big credit must go to him.

"They were difficult conditions and he did really well, keeping us in the game in the first half with two great saves. I'm delighted for him."