Newcastle United 0 Burnley 0
- Andy Madley
Newcastle United were held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley on Saturday after a drab contest at St. James’ Park.
Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie and Miguel Almirón all went close for Steve Bruce’s side while Jeff Hendrick and Jay Rodriguez took aim for Burnley, but in the end neither side could find a way to break the deadlock.
The result means the Magpies remain 14th in the Premier League table, as their attention turns to Tuesday night’s FA Cup fifth round clash at West Bromwich Albion.
A wretched first half brought few clear-cut opportunities. Gayle’s snapshot following Javier Manquillo’s deep cross was deflected wide, while Rodriguez bundled into the box and went close for the Clarets.
Martin Dúbravka clawed away Hendrick’s lob soon after but United ended the opening 45 minutes in the ascendency. Almirón tested Nick Pope and Gayle, back in the starting line-up for the first time since January’s draw at Wolves, sent over a teasing cross which Ritchie nodded past the post.
Bruce had reverted to a back four for the clash with Sean Dyche’s men, with Joelinton dropping back into a left midfield role and Gayle partnering Almirón further forward. The switch in formation gave the hosts more of an attacking foothold and Ritchie again went close before the break, seeing his shot take a touch off a Burnley body and strike the base of the upright on its way wide.
The game as a spectacle didn’t prove too much livelier after the break. Jonjo Shelvey curled a shot straight at Pope and at the other end, substitute Chris Wood headed a Dwight McNeil centre well wide of the target.
It was Burnley who spurned the best opportunity. Danny Rose won a challenge on halfway but inadvertently presented Rodriguez with a one-on-one as the loose ball fell straight into his path. He only had Dúbravka to beat but, with United’s backline retreating, he blazed his shot over the crossbar.
As the game drew to a close Ritchie went close once more, as his fizzing drive from 25 yards had Pope worried, but it flashed just beyond the upright. There was one final chance for the Magpies winger in stoppage time as Shelvey burst forward and played him in, but his effort was charged down and the spoils were shared at the end of an afternoon that is unlikely to live long in the memory.