Newcastle United 1-1 Aston Villa: Valuable point for the visitors at the death
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Dwight Gayle of Newcastle United FC (12) scores the opening goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St. James Park on June 24, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Substitute Dwight Gayle looked to have sunk Aston Villa when he snatched his first Premier League goal since 2018 mid-way through the second half, but Villa fought back.

It was a change of Villa's own that ensured they would travel home with a point and their second since the restart when Ahmed Elmohamady converted a corner in the final ten minutes.

Bright start for Villa

The first chance of the game fell for the visitors inside six minutes, and it was the best chance of the half when Ezri Konsa found space on the right to deliver a fantastic cross towards Trezeguet, but the latter's first-time shot floated over the bar. 

Villa continued to pose a threat down the same flank when another beautifully-floated cross was swung in by Anwar El Ghazi five minutes later but Mbwana Samatta, from 12 yards out, could only flick his header well wide. 

The hosts were in good mood prior to the clash given their impressive performance and result against Sheffield United at the weekend, but they looked sluggish and lacked fluidity in the opening 25 minutes. 

They showed their first sign of attacking potency immediately after the drinks break when a couple of promising balls were delivered by Matt Ritchie and Miguel Almiron respectively, but Villa were well organised.

Dean Smith and his side needed no reminder of what Allan Saint-Maximin can do when he has the ball at his feet and on 36 minutes he flashed a cross across goal but with no receiver in the middle.

It was another let-off a moment later when Jonjo Shelvey won the ball back in an advanced position before feeding Joelinton, but Tyrone Mings recovered well and blocked the Brazilian's effort from an acute angle. 

Newcastle were finishing the half strongly, with Ritchie stinging the palms of Orjan Nyland who couldn't hold on, and the pressure began to grow in the Villa half before the referee blew his whistle.  

Magpies sharper after the break

It still wasn't quite the finished article from his side but Steve Bruce will have been slightly happier with how United began the second period, with Saint-Maximin particularly looking to cause problems. 

On 57 minutes Danny Rose found plenty of space in the penalty area to feed Almiron but the Paraguayan international took half a second too long and Mings was on hand to block again. 

Just a minute later it was Saint-Maximin again with the ball when he drifted beyond Mings with ease but his resultant shot was drilled high and wide. 

Villa began to look more promising themselves as the game began to open up, and it took an excellent sliding challenge from Rose to prevent Konsa from getting into a dangerous position on the hour mark. 

Bruce's subs link up at the Gallowgate 

But for all of Aston Villa's good start in the first half and the growing threat of Jack Grealish, it was the hosts who did break the deadlock on 68 minutes when Bruce's double substitutions linked up.

Andy Carroll was there to chest down a simple throw-in before simply feeding Dwight Gayle - on for Matt Ritchie - who turned and kept his composure to find the bottom left-hand corner. 

Carroll too had entered the field moments earlier for Joelinton, to register his fourth assist of the campaign. 

Connor Hourihane's double at Villa Park back in November put Newcastle to the sword that night and he threatened to haunt them once more on 73 minutes when he delivered a dangerous free-kick  but he saw it glanced wide by Mings.

You felt that was the moment for the Villa if they were to get back level, as United escaped by a fingernail and managed to stand firm against the following corner, but their moment was still to come. 

Villa make amends 

If the hosts were lucky to get off with the earlier Hourihane set-piece, they certainly failed to deal with the second one as the veteran Ahmed Elmohamady flicked a header beyond Martin Dubravka.

The Slovakian might have been disappointed not to keep it out, but a swing of thin by Shelvey on the post didn't help things. 

From there on in there was only one side who looked like winning it, with Villa committing men forward to seek what would have been a vital three points. 

United did see one half-chance go begging as Federico Fernandez met a free-kick but the Argentine could only head over. 

In stoppage time, a wonderful cross from Grealish pierced the six-yard area, but his delivery met the head of a well-positioned Fernandez who steered it away from danger.

Bruce's side don't concede too many on home turf, but they looked a nervous side in the final five minutes of time added on as the visitors piled on the pressure.

Encouraging finish for Dean Smith

Whilst being lacklustre the most of the second half, it was an end to the game that the manager will certainly take positivity from if his side are to escape the drop zone that now sees three sides level on points. 

For the Magpies, it was a case of two points dropped given the authority they stamped on the game when Gayle notched his first goal of the season, but their threat ended there and they were forced to hang on to their point.

On a better note for Bruce, it's four points from the first two games since the league saw its restart which has virtually guaranteed Premier League status for next season. 

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