Newcastle United 1 Burnley 0
- Paul Tierney
Newcastle United recorded their long-awaited first win of the season on Saturday, as Callum Wilson’s first half strike handed them all three points against Burnley.
Wilson’s superb winner on 40 minutes after Nick Pope had dropped Joe Willock’s cross was all that separated the two sides at St. James’ Park in the end, giving head coach Eddie Howe his first taste of victory since arriving on Tyneside last month.
The result lifts the Magpies off the bottom of the Premier League table until Sunday at least, taking them to within three points of safety.
Burnley began brightly, with Maxwel Cornet pulling a shot wide after latching onto Chris Wood’s knock-down. There was a flurry of openings for Sean Dyche’s men early on; Johann Gudmundsson saw his fierce strike deflected onto the post before Cornet forced Martin Dúbravka to save his looping header when Charlie Taylor picked him out in the middle.
But Howe’s side grew into the game, and carved out a few chances of their own. Miguel Almirón, restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Ryan Fraser, blasted over and Taylor was called into action at the other end, producing a terrific sliding challenge to deny Wilson when Allan Saint-Maximin had clipped a pass over the Clarets’ backline.
United’s Paraguayan international was turning in a typically energetic shift and but for some committed defending from the visitors, he could have netted the deadlock-breaker when he turned and shot in the box. It was charged down, though, and the hosts had to wait until five minutes before the break to take the lead.
It was coming by that point, and Pope’s error led to it. The England goalkeeper attempted to claim Willock’s cross but spilled it under pressure. There was still plenty for Wilson to do as it landed at his feet but he showed remarkable composure to shift the ball onto his favoured right foot and fire home over the head of the retreating Wood on the goalline.
A protracted VAR check followed but the goal was allowed to stand, with no hint of a foul on Pope before he dropped the ball. The visitors could still have levelled before the break but Matej Vydra – on as a substitute for the injured Cornet – shot over when Matt Lowton picked him out in space on the break.
Saint-Maximin, lively as ever, warmed Pope’s gloves after the restart and played his part in the move which saw Wilson release Almirón, whose low effort trickled just beyond the upright after taking a nick off a defender on its way.
It was already a cagey affair but the second half was even more so, befitting of a game between two sides desperate for points at the wrong end of the Premier League table. Saint-Maximin saw a shot blocked as both teams attempted to counter quickly, but Newcastle enjoyed the better of proceedings. Their talismanic Frenchman was at the heart of most of their best moves, driving at the Burnley defence, and he was involved in the attack which led to Almirón cutting in front the right and seeing his curling effort deflected over.
Pope did well to tip Jonjo Shelvey’s strike over the top as Howe’s men rallied, while James Tarkowski glanced Ashley Westwood’s corner wide of the target in a tense final ten minutes. Substitute Jay Rodriguez had the ball in the net late on after a flowing passage of play, but fortunately for Newcastle, he had strayed into an offside position.
And despite that minor wobble, the Magpies held on to claim a hard-earned, and much-needed, first three points of the campaign – and a first victory under new head coach Howe.