Newcastle dominated the stats sheet but offered very little going forward as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday.
Phillip Billing poked home against the run of play early in the second half but an immediate response from the penalty spot from Alexander Isak proved to be the only moment of real quality from any Newcastle player in the attacking third.
Newcastle began the game on top and had Bournemouth pinned back for large parts of the opening 15 minutes, although the Cherries nearly opened the scoring as Marcus Tavernier beat Dan Burn to a header but couldn’t keep it on target.
Howe’s men had over 70% possession as the clock ticked past 20 minutes, but all they had to show for their dominance was half-chances for Alexander Isak and Miguel Almiron – until Kieran Trippier’s excellent free-kick hit the outside of the post and went wide.
The pressure on the Bournemouth goal ramped up shortly before the interval. Joelinton hit the post before Neto pulled out an excellent diving save to deny Bruno Guimaraes and keep the scores level heading into the break.
Ryan Fraser dragged wide within a few minutes of the restart as Newcastle continued their tepid onslaught. Bournemouth dropped into a back five and Howe’s side took far too much time figuring out how to play against that.
Against the run of play, Bournemouth actually grabbed the opener as Jordan Zemura’s cross found Billing, who prodded home past Pope to give his side the ultimate smash-and-grab lead just after the hour mark.
That advantage didn’t last too long, however. Jefferson Lerma’s handball was caught by VAR and the ensuing penalty was confidently dispatched by Isak two minutes later.
Despite conceding that equaliser, Bournemouth looked increasingly comfortable at the back as the game progressed, and they held on to what was a hard-fought point.
GK: Nick Pope – 6/10 – Had very little to do apart from pick the ball out the back of his net.
RB: Kieran Trippier – 7/10 – Looked nice and dangerous going forward. Unfortunate to see his free-kick hit the post.
CB: Fabian Schar – 5/10 – Poor in possession and looked uncomfortable whenever Bournemouth did get forward.
CB: Dan Burn – 6/10 – Surprisingly beaten in the air by Tavernier but didn’t get much wrong aside from that.
LB: Matt Targett – 5/10 – Took far too many free-kicks away from Trippier. Not good enough.
DM: Bruno Guimaraes – 7/10 – Nice passing and defensively solid. Did his best to keep Newcastle moving forward.
CM: Joelinton – 6/10 – Was a decent threat from deep but his final pass was an issue. Didn’t have the creativity to get through Bournemouth’s deep line.
CM: Joe Willock – 4/10 – Didn’t match Joelinton’s energy and was equally as ineffective in the final third.
RW: Miguel Almiron – 4/10 – You can see he’s trying but Almiron didn’t have the end product needed. Far too predictable.
ST: Alexander Isak – 5/10 – Put himself around where he could but had a game-low ten touches in the first half. Stepped up his involvement after the break and slotted home from the spot.
LW: Ryan Fraser – 3/10 – Took a load of abuse from the away fans and a fair bit from his own supporters. Offered very little.
SUB: Jacob Murphy (71′ for Fraser) – 4/10 – Offered very little after coming on.
SUB: Sean Longstaff (71′ for Guimaraes) – 5/10 – Failed to change the game off the bench.
SUB: Chris Wood (89′ for Almiron) – N/A
Manager: Eddie Howe – 4/10 – Bournemouth challenged Newcastle to figure out a way to get through them and Howe couldn’t do that.
GK: Neto – 7/10 – Tweaked his groin just a few minutes in but shook it off and looked dominant in between the sticks. A handful of nice saves.
RB: Adam Smith – 6/10 – Did a good job of dealing with Fraser but wasn’t really tested in that regard.
CB: Chris Mepham – 7/10 – Clogged the box to keep Isak out of the game and did a pretty good job of it.
CB: Marcos Senesi – 5/10 – Still looks very raw. A bit too eager to jump into tackles and break up Bournemouth’s shape.
LB: Jordan Zemura – 7/10 – Gave up a lot of space on the wing but that felt like part of O’Neil’s tactics. Really impressive in the second half and a nice cross for the opener.
DM: Lewis Cook – 7/10 – Great tactical shape. Happy to defend and help out his defenders.
DM: Jefferson Lerma – 7/10 – Started in midfield but regularly dropped into the defence to help out. Played more as a centre-back in reality and did a pretty good job there. Unfortunate with the penalty but the rules are the rules.
RM: Ryan Christie – 6/10 – Didn’t get the chance to do much going forward but put in a real shift.
AM: Philip Billing – 6/10 – Felt a bit lost this game but made a decisive contribution with a rare sight of goal.
LM: Marcus Tavernier – 6/10 – A nice spark on the counter. Looked more likely to score than anyone on his team.
ST: Dominic Solanke – 4/10 – Tried a mental bicycle kick in the first half from outside the box out of desperation. Found it really hard to get into the game.
SUB: Jaidon Anthony (80′ for Tavernier) – N/A
SUB: Jack Stacey (87′ for Christie) – N/A
SUB: Jack Stephens (90′ for Billing) – N/A
SUB: Kieffer Moore (90′ for Solanke) – N/A
Manager: Gary O’Neil – 7/10 – Deserves credit for making his side so tough to break down but now needs to figure out the balance between defence and attack. These are the sort of games Bournemouth need to at least try to win.