Aston Villa and Newcastle both produced dire performances, but the game looked set to be heading Aston Villa’s way before a last-minute goal for Newcastle.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to St James’ Park this evening for a tie against Newcastle United – hoping to showcase an upturn in playing style against Steve Bruce’s men.
Dean Smith’s side were energetic in the opening ten minutes, holding 70% of the possession and pressing with intent. whilst Newcastle, like their statistics show, seemed reluctant to put pressure on the ball early on.
Ezri Konsa denied Joelinton the chance of a shot on target in the 13th minute as the Brazilian managed to out-strengthen Tyrone Mings down the left hand side, before bursting into the box. Konsa got down low and blocked the effort out for a corner.
Aston Villa were forced into an early change in the opening 20 minutes, as Anwar El Ghazi came onto the pitch to replace Bertrand Traore, who had clashed with the stadium’s stand after having to vault over the advertising board after a push from Newcastle’s Dummett. It looked like a rib injury for the Burkinabe winger.
Trezeguet forced Dubravka into a good save at his near post after working his way in between two Newcastle players and firing towards goal. The Newcastle ‘keeper palmed the ball away towards the same area where Trezeguet took his shot.
The game lulled into both sides showing attacking intent but poor quality in the final third for a prolonged period of time. Neither side looked like they were going to be able to score before the half-time whistle.
The half-time whistle coming was somewhat of a blessing for fans at home, who had just endured a torrid 45-minutes of football with very little reward. The two sides went in level at the break.
Aston Villa started the second half the stronger of the two sides, but yet continued to have very little to show for it.
Newcastle’s Emil Krafth was booked in the 51st minute for tripping Ollie Watkins who was approaching the Newcastle United box.
Morgan Sanson made another appearance from the bench in the 58th minute, replacing Jacob Ramsey – who had recently spearheaded a failed counter-attack for Aston Villa.
There was another change for Dean Smith’s side eight minutes later, as Ross Barkley replaced Trezeguet as Dean Smith looked to try and inject more creativity into the game. Jamal Lascelles was booked for handling the ball whilst on the floor as he attempted to dispossess Ross Barkley shortly after.
John McGinn, making his 100th appearance for Aston Villa, was booked for a tussle with Ryan Fraser in the 73rd minute as, still, neither side seemed likely to score. Three minutes later, and Morgan Sanson was booked for a cynical foul, also on Fraser – who was looking to break beyond the Aston Villa midfield. A minute after that, and Tyrone Mings was booked for a foul on Joelinton, who had been causing the centre-back problems all evening.
Newcastle substitute Jacob Murphy almost opened the scoring 82 minutes into the tie, cutting onto his right foot before curling an effort towards goal. His shot struck the crossbar and bounced out, before Emiliano Martinez eventually collected the ball as it was crossed back into a central position.
In the 85th minute, a Matt Targett cross found Ollie Watkins at the near post. The forward produced a diving header directed towards goal, which deflected off the body of former Villan Ciaran Clark before nestling in the net behind Dubravka.
Douglas Luiz forced Dubravka into a stretching save from 40-yards out after noticing the ‘keeper out of the goal minute before added time.
There were four minutes of added time at the end of the 90.
Ollie Watkins forced Dubravka into a key save in the 93rd minute, but the forward was likely offside in the build up regardless.
Newcastle United would equalise in the final minute of added time, as Jamal Lascelles moved between Ezri Konsa and Douglas Luiz to head into the net beyond the despairing Emiliano Martinez.