Saints beaten by Wilson cameo

2022-23/Matchdays/20230430 Newcastle vs Southampton/MW_Newcastle_Southampton_063_ksimer

Another encouraging Southampton start against high-flying opponents ultimately ended in 3-1 defeat as Newcastle mounted a second-half fightback at St. James’ Park.

A breathless beginning saw chances at both ends as Saints took the game to the Champions League chasers, going in at the interval with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a sublime counter-attacking goal finished by Stuart Armstrong.

But the introduction of Callum Wilson as a half-time substitute transformed the hosts, who dominated the second period.

The England striker levelled the scores within nine minutes of his arrival, and thought he’d turned the game on its head in the 74th minute, only to see another sharp finish disallowed for offside by VAR.

Newcastle’s second did arrive soon after through an unfortunate own goal from substitute Theo Walcott, before Wilson rounded Alex McCarthy to complete the scoring almost straight from kick-off, consigning Saints to another defeat that will leave them ruing the loss of a lead.

Rubén Sellés rang the changes after Thursday’s home defeat to Bournemouth left his side with a mountain to climb in pursuit of Premier League survival.

McCarthy continued in goal after making his first league appearance of the season against the Cherries, while Lyanco and Armel Bella-Kotchap stepped into the defence, with the Brazilian operating at right-back and Kyle Walker-Peters on the left.

Elsewhere, there were recalls for Armstrong, Moussa Djenepo and Kamaldeen Sulemana in a new-look attack.

Romain Perraud was among the quintet to miss out having hobbled off with an ankle injury last time out, while Duje Ćaleta-Car, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Walcott and former Magpie Adam Armstrong dropped to the bench.

Newcastle’s form had been ominous coming into this game, scoring ten goals in two handsome victories to dismantle Tottenham and Everton, but it was Saints who started with a bang, forcing the first save in the opening minute.

Some bright approach play down the left between Armstrong and Kamaldeen set up a chance for Walker-Peters, who had a moment to set himself from 15 yards before drilling a low shot towards the near post that Nick Pope had to get down smartly to smother.

Newcastle responded with a first raid from Joe Willock, who was unceremoniously taken down by Jan Bednarek on the left touchline for the game’s first booking inside three minutes.

It was down the same side that Anthony Gordon tested out Lyanco soon after, driving into the box and shooting into the side-netting as the hosts showed signs of hitting their straps.

Back came Saints, who had started with intent, with Pope forced into action once more when Armstrong stung his palms with a left-footed drive from a tight angle.

This was an electrifying first ten minutes, as Bruno Guimarães volleyed narrowly wide from another chance, as Newcastle began to get on top.

Backed by a boisterous home crowd who have loved watching their resurgent team this season, Eddie Howe’s side should have edged in front when Gordon escaped in behind the Saints defence, slotting the ball beyond the onrushing McCarthy but only against the outside of the post, as the visitors breathed a sigh of relief.

Joelinton was next to close, heading wide when Kieran Trippier’s corner was nodded back across goal by the giant frame of Dan Burn at the far post.

In similar fashion to the Bournemouth encounter, an explosive first quarter gave way to a subdued second quarter, with Saints looking more robust and doing a decent job of containing their high-flying hosts.

Jacob Murphy tried his luck with a curling shot five minutes before the interval that sailed off target, before Saints took the lead against the odds from their next attack.

After Lavia slid in to dispossess the usually unflappable Guimarães, Carlos Alcaraz carried the ball deep into Newcastle territory, slipping in Kamaldeen to his right who crossed first time for Armstrong, who finished like a seasoned poacher in the middle of the six-yard box.

Perhaps Newcastle were shaken, as Kamaldeen immediately set off down the right channel again, nudged to ground by Sven Botman in the box, but referee Anthony Taylor was not convinced the contact was sufficient to award a penalty.

Howe’s response at half time was to introduce his top scorer, as Wilson replaced Gordon to partner Alexander Isak in attack.

Within two minutes, the substitute glanced a Trippier free-kick over the bar as Newcastle showed they meant business after the restart.

A similar inswinging Trippier set-piece caused problems when his deep cross was met by Burn, who was thwarted by McCarthy at point-blank range before Saints smuggled the ball behind for a corner as Wilson waited to pounce.

Wilson’s moment would arrive on 54 minutes, as Isak’s low cross from the left was gleefully converted by the striker, whose finish was not the cleanest but effective enough to beat McCarthy from eight yards.

The goal-hungry Wilson was only denied a second by Bednarek’s last-ditch defending, as the Pole crucially intercepted Murphy’s low ball across goal.

Sellés knew he needed to stem the flow, and made his first change ten minutes after the equaliser, replacing Djenepo with Walcott, but Newcastle kept coming.

McCarthy was forced into saves to keep out Willock’s low shot and Wilson’s header, while Trippier’s devilish deliveries continued to threaten, but Saints remained on level terms as Sellés made a triple change to freshen things up for the final 20 minutes.

Off went Lyanco, Kamaldeen and goalscorer Armstrong, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Elyounoussi and Adam Armstrong entered the heat of battle.

But within three minutes Wilson had the ball in the net, as Isak’s low cross squirmed beyond Bella-Kotchap and Newcastle substitute Miguel Almirón, into the path of Wilson, who duly tucked it away and celebrated his second.

But after VAR disallowed a Saints leveller against Bournemouth, this time the technology ruled in their favour, judging Almirón had made contact with the ball, meaning Wilson – offside from that touch but not from Isak’s original cross – was penalised and the goal chalked off.

But it was from another wicked Trippier corner that Newcastle eventually made the breakthrough, as Walcott, unsighted by players in front of him, could not react in time to prevent the ball cannoning in off his right shin and cruelly rolling into the net.

Two minutes later, the game was effectively over when Willock chased a long ball to force a mistake from Maitland-Niles, allowing Wilson to steal in, round McCarthy and calmly complete the scoring nine minutes from time.

The hat-trick hunting Wilson then struck the crossbar – not once but twice, as his shot looped into the air and landed on top of the goal frame – but this was still a match-winning performance from their in-form No 9.

Newcastle: Nick Pope, Sven Botman, Kieran Trippier (c), Dan Burn, Fabian Schär, Joe Willock (Elliot Anderson 92), Bruno Guimarães, Joelinton, Alexander Isak (Matt Richie 92), Anthony Gordon (Callum Wilson 45), Jacob Murphy (Miguel Almirón 69).
Unused subs: Martin Dúbravka, Matt Target, Paul Dummett, Jamal Lewis, Javier Manquillo.
Goals: Wilson (2), Walcott (og).

Southampton: Alex McCarthy, Armel Bella-Kotchap, Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Lyanco (Ainsley Maitland-Niles 70), Stuart Armstrong (Moi Elyounoussi 71), Roméo Lavia, James Ward-Prowse (c), Moussa Djenepo (Theo Walcott 64), Carlos Alcaraz (Ché Adams 77), Kamaldeen Sulemana (Adam Armstrong 70).
Unused subs: Gavin Bazunu, Duje Ćaleta-Car, Ibrahima Diallo, Sékou Mara.
Goals: S.Armstrong