Guest post courtesy of Michael Lowdon from The Tynesider
Steve McClaren failed to crown his Premier League return with a victory on Tyneside, however a debut goal for Georginio Wijnaldum and a poacher’s finish from Papiss Cisse ensured fans left St James’ with positivity and confidence ahead of the new campaign.
Although Fabricio Coloccini and Chancel Mbemba didn’t start any preseason friendlies, the pair were given the nod by McClaren to try and shut out the Saints, but failed to contain the aerial threat as Graziano Pelle rose well to put his side in front on the 25th minute.
The Magpies pegged back the visitors shortly before the break, as Cisse knocked in a deflected cross with his chest from close range.
The attacking trio of Obertan, Sissoko and Wijnaldum combined well, stretching Southampton’s back line, creating plenty of chances in the process. Shortly after a Krul save to deny Maya Yoshida’s best efforts, they broke quickly on the counter, Obertan supplying a superb whipped cross which was met well by an imperious Wijnaldum for Newcastle’s second.
Southampton were second best for the majority of the second half, until they decided to go off script and deflate the home crowd with a late Shane Long headed goal. Long came off the bench to cancel out Wijnaldum’s fantastic header of his own half an hour earlier.
Sharp and slick: no, not the arrival of a tuxedo clad Mbemba, but the attacking spells shown by Newcastle under the reigns of Steve McClaren.
McClaren stated the desire for another week until the start of season, and the fitness of his players would have benefited from it. Southampton’s European ventures helped their match fitness, as they looked for a winner in the final 10 minutes. Sadio Mane failed to capitalise on two golden chances towards the final whistle, as Newcastle held on for a share of the points.
United displayed more offensive nous across the 90 minutes than they did arguably across the whole of last season. All in all, fans will be pleased with the football on display and can take a lot of confidence heading into the Swansea game next Saturday.