Newcastle United 1-1 Aston Villa: Lascelles header clinches Magpies last-gasp point
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Jamaal Lascelles popped up with a 94th-minute equaliser to rescue Newcastle United a point against Aston Villa at St James' Park.

Villa thought they had done enough to win the game when Ollie Watkins' header deflected off Ciaran Clark and found its way into the net on 86 minutes.

But Lascelles responded with a header of his own in the dying seconds of the match to clinch a deserved point for Steve Bruce's side, in a game that was far from a Premier League classic.

Story of the game

After The Magpies' goalless draw with fellow strugglers West Brom last Sunday, head coach Steve Bruce brought a natural striker into the starting lineup, with Dwight Gayle replacing midfielder Jeff Hendrick.

Aston Villa opened the game looking to assert their dominance early on. John McGinn on his 100th appearance for the club went close twice, with his second opportunity being the highlight of the opening 15 minutes, coming from a Trezeguet cross and eventually sailing high and wide of the Newcastle goal.

After the early exchanges that saw Villa on top - it was Newcastle's turn to have a spell of their own - Joelinton was unleashed through on goal from a Jonjo Shelvey long ball, and it took a vital sliding challenge from Ezri Konsa to prevent the Brazilian from testing Emiliano Martinez's goal.

Bertrand Traore was substituted on the 20-minute mark after a nasty collision with the advertising boards following a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with Paul Dummett.

Anwar El Ghazi replaced Traore and introduced himself into the game almost immediately with an effort from range which in the end was collected comfortably by Martin Dubravka in The Magpies' net.

The final opportunity of a half that petered out 15 minutes from time fell to visitors when Trezeguet slinked past Dummett and managed to sting the hands of The Toon goalkeeper, but his effort was never really in danger of opening the scoring.

A second half brought to life by two late goals

The second half opened up as cagey as the entire 45 minutes before it. Konsa got his head on the end of a Matt Targett free-kick in 53rd-minute, but his effort flashed past the post.

Villa continued their bright start to the second half when Trezeguet broke at speed, drove into the box and played the ball back to El Ghazi, whose shot was blocked and cleared by the Newcastle defence.

Martinez was forced to rescue his teammate Targett from an embarrassing own-goal midway with an acrobatic catch, courtesy of a teasing Isaac Hayden cross into the box.

Newcastle best chance of breaking the deadlock looked like coming from a set-piece. Jamaal Lascelles peeled off at the back-post from a Ryan Fraser corner, but his header was nowhere near the Villa goal.

The best opportunity of the game fell to Newcastle in the 72nd-minute as Joelinton found himself through on goal - but similar to what he did against West Brom last Sunday, and much to the distaste of his manager , instead of shooting, he opted to square the ball to Joe Willock and the chance went begging.

Substitute Ross Barkley picked out Ollie Watkins, who was having a quiet game until the final 10 minutes, with an audacious cross-the-pitch pass, the forward looked to pick out El Ghazi who was peeling off at the back post, but the ball skewed over the top of the crossbar.

On 82 minutes, the crossbar denied Newcastle of an all-important goal when Dummett picked out substitute Jacob Murphy - who cut inside and skinned the sliding Villa central defenders, found space to shoot but the woodwork denied him of giving Newcastle a crucial goal.

After that huge opportunity for Newcastle went begging, the visitors took full advantage and grabbed the lead deep into the game when Watkins' header took a massive deflection off Ciaran Clark, hit the underside of the crossbar and found its way into the back of the net.

Villa fought tooth and nail defensively in an attempt to seal a first win on Tyneside since 2005, but a powerful Lascelles header beat Martinez at all ends up to secure The Magpies a draw from a match that sees them extend their gap to relegation rivals Fulham to two points.

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Takeaways

Another big opportunity missed by Newcastle

A 94th-minute equaliser at St James' Park would usually be greeted with scenes of jubilation - but it will have been treat with contempt by The Toon faithful - who will have seen tonight as another two points dropped.

No man will have celebrated Newcastle late, late equaliser more than Steve Bruce, as it might have just been the goal that keeps him his job.

One positive you can take from a Newcastle perspective is that they did not fold after conceding.

They swarmed the Villa defence and snatched a last-gasp goal, a goal that was somewhat deserved in terms of the run of play.

But that was the only positive.

The Magpies were toothless once again in front of goal, and never looked like scoring unless it was from a set-piece.

Similar to their opponents, they looked like a wounded animal without their key players, and if they wish to survive this season, they need Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin back and firing on all cylinders as soon as possible.

Villa desperately missing their star man

Talk of Aston Villa being a 'one-man team' were almost quashed after their impressive win at Leeds the other week, but it is no doubt those claims will have reared their ugly head again after tonight's performance.

It was so evident they missed their attacking focal point in Jack Grealish - no surprise as to why they offered very little in front of goal - considering he has scored or assisted a staggering combined 18 times this season.

Dean Smith's side looked out of sorts and were probably fortunate to be facing a poor Newcastle side who offered very little in front of goal themselves.

Despite an off the pace showing from Villa, they almost snatched all three points when Ollie Watkins' deflected header somehow nestled into the Newcastle net, only to throw away a rare win in Newcastle with virtually the last kick of the game.

Villa's outside shot at a spot in Europe this season took a blow tonight, and they will need to respond with all three points against Tottenham next weekend if they wish to keep those dreams alive.

Starting XI's

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Hayden, Shelvey, Willock; Fraser; Joelinton, Gayle. (4-3-1-2)

Aston Villa: Martinez; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Traore, Watkins, Trezeguet. (4-3-3)

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