Newcastle limped towards the end of the season, against Brighton and Hove Albion in an uneventful encounter. The 0-0 draw was Newcastle’s first point in four Premier League matches and ensured the hosts survived in the division for another season.
Multiple players were missing for the Magpies as Steve Bruce was without, Fabian Schar, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark at the heart of the defence. In their places, Emil Krafth started out of position as a right sided centre back, while Danny Rose also occupied a makeshift role as the left central defender.
What did he say?
Speaking to the Chronicle after the Brighton draw, Bruce admitted: “Fair play to everyone that worked tirelessly to get the games on and get the season finished. However, it’s been a long, long year and we’ll have played ten games in 35 days which is a huge ask.”
“We haven’t got the ability to rotate, so all in all the players have done well. Emil Krafth has a really sore ankle. He’s done well to carry on. He epitomised the spirit of them all today. It wasn’t a classic,” added the Newcastle manager.
Rarely has Newcastle’s mental strength come into question this season as Bruce has been successful at installing a siege mentality in this side, only once they were already over the line in the Premier League has the Toon’s mental toughness faltered, losing three on the bounce before this encounter. After experiencing what Bruce described as the worst injury crisis of his career during the festive period, the Magpies find themselves, once again, embroiled in the midst of yet more fitness issues.
Against the Seagulls, they were left painfully short of options in defence, and the Magpies manager reverted to a five-man backline, which proved to be effective, if not underwhelming, as Newcastle kept their first clean sheet since June.
Krafth struggled with his ankle throughout the match but bravely soldiered on and helped the Toon to 44 points for the season. As Bruce mentioned, the Sweedish defender epitomised this squads’ never say die attitude which has been a significant part of why Newcastle ensured Premier League safety with six matches of the campaign still to go.
Tuesday evenings’ performance was far from a classic, as the Newcastle boss suggested, but it did show that when they put their mind to it, this Newcastle side can get a result, even with their backs up against the wall.