Newcastle United break 65-year record as rescue mission continues into final two games

Amid much aching disappointment at two Euro points unexpectedly disappearing from view at least one positive record was established.

Five minutes into first-half injury time with Newcastle surprisingly trailing Sean Longstaff jabbed home a telling equaliser after Anthony Gordon and Elliot Anderson had done the spadework.

Inconsequential in the overall structure of a season? Maybe in some eyes but it meant that United had achieved what they had never done for the last 65 years. What was that? Score in every one of their home league games during a top flight season.

The last time they managed such a feat was 1958-59 when the weekly wage of all stars like Len White, Ivor Allchurch, George Eastham, and Jimmy Scoular was a paltry seventeen quid (plus a £3 bonus), the manager was Charlie Mitten who introduced highland dancing into a revolutionary training programme, a public boardroom row between Stan Seymour and William McKeag was raging, and Newcastle finished 11th both scoring and letting in a mind boggling 80 goals.

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Times have much changed but disappointment remains on the Geordie menu. To say goodbye to a SJP season with a lacklustre 1-1 draw against a team with nothing to play for while United were fighting for a European place against heavyweights like Manchester United and Chelsea took some gloss off the goodbye lap of honour.

Of course all can still be rescued through two away games at Man U and Brentford but any further wiggle room has been lost. This was a strange performance by a side on a rescue mission after a season blighted by persistent injuries and a 10-month ban for their £52m showcase signing Sandro Tonali.

It reminded me so much of an end of season game played in warm sunshine on a strength sapping afternoon which of course is precisely what it was. Except that United had so much at stake. Yes, it proved difficult for a running and pressing team but United's passing was sloppy and misplaced, their urgency was strangely missing from the start when all were fresh, and their top stars looked as though they were merely going through predictable motions. Typical was Alexander Isak, a 20-goal-plus man of sheer elegance newly nominated for national Footballer Of The Year but so lethargic that he was subbed with little over an hour gone.

That United did not have a recognised centre-forward on a nine-man subs bench was telling. Callum Wilson had spent the week trumpeting about making the Euros this summer with England but he couldn't even make the pitch for three successive games. Instead of convincing Gareth Southgate of his prowess he convinced Geordie fans that sadly his fitness means he simply cannot be relied upon. Wonderful finisher he may be, but that is hardly any consolation when he spends so much time a spectator.

It simply cannot go on. Harsh but true. Eddie Howe may want him to stay but at what cost? Wages weighed up against appearances. Back up against no back up. He has made 69 PL starts out of a possible 152 in four seasons with us which is a horrendous record. The manager revealed afterwards that Isak had been unwell which made Wilson's role even more important yet he was nowhere to be seen. Where does that leave us next season? If we go again with the same personnel and no addition then we will inevitably fall short.

Let us hope those two points that were sacrificed do not come back to haunt us. There was frankly no stand-out player. It was a much of a muchness performance and means Newcastle will have to come again in a match at Old Trafford on Wednesday night that has taken on even greater significance. This is death or glory.

If my heart was heavy as I left SJP after commiserating with a bevy of former United stars such as Mick Quinn, Steve Watson, Alan Foggon and Ray Varadi up in the Moncur Suite it took a joyous leap upon catching up with my old club Gateshead in the FA Trophy final at Wembley.

Having led 1-0 and then found themselves 2-1 down to Solihull Motors in extra time a club which has been dealt a mighty injustice through no fault of their own defiantly rallied to equalise before going on to win the penalty shoot-out 5-4 and bring the big shiny trophy back to Tyneside. There is some justice in this world after all.