‘We play that again, we win’ – Newcastle have reasons to be cheerful despite draw with Leeds

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By Luke Edwards at St James’ Park

It may, at first glance, be perverse to argue that being held to a draw at home by a team you should have beaten is further evidence of how far you have come and how much you have improved, but it is true of Newcastle United.

The overwhelming feeling after this stalemate with Leeds was frustration.

The predominant emotion by the time the final whistle blew in torrential rain was irritation. There was, perhaps, a sprinkling of anger mixed in with the feelings of disappointment harboured by some.

It was an annoying afternoon on an occasion that should have been enjoyed, at the end of an incredible year, but which turned into one that had to be endured.

Sean Longstaff blazed over from inside the area

Credit: Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images

Then you remember where Newcastle were this time last year, second bottom, with just one win and just days away from a humiliating home defeat to League One Cambridge United in the FA Cup.

A little under 12 months later, Eddie Howe’s side have just drawn a game they should have won, but are third in the table, challenging for Champions League qualification and have a quarter-final of the Carabao Cup to look forward to. If ever a sense of perspective was needed it is now.

“All that was missing was the finish,” said Howe. “We had some great moments and recently we have taken one of the many chances we created.

“There was a feeling of impatience because we were desperate to score, but we have to keep that sense of perspective. There are no feelings of negativity from me towards the players.

“It is important that everyone keeps a sense of where we have come from and where we are now. If we played that game again, we would win it comfortably.

“There are feelings of frustration and disappointment at the end but they are healthy emotions after a game like that. The game was there to be won and we didn’t.”

Chris Wood was denied a goal against his former club by Illan Meslier in the second half

Credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images

It is natural to feel annoyed when you have seen your team miss so many chances against an opponent who are close enough for this to be considered a derby of sorts.

But the very fact Newcastle are expected to beat Leeds illustrates the vast strides they have made in 2022.

Newcastle missed so many chances, most lost count of how many there were. Fabian Schar had a hat-trick that he failed to take, Sean Longstaff had two, the first a really bad miss in front of the Gallowgate End, as did Chris Wood. Joelinton had at least one opening he could have taken and Dan Burn will still be wondering how he did not score from three yards out, slipping on the sodden surface as he tried to sweep in a knockdown from Joelinton.

On another day, at least one of these would have gone in, quite probably two and it would have been a seventh successive victory. No need to complain and moan.

Leeds defied them, they defended superbly, which certainly pleased their manager Jesse Marsch, but they also should have lost.

They travelled back to Yorkshire with a valuable point because Newcastle were wasteful in front of goal, not because they played badly.

Just because the emotions after the final whistle felt strange, because so much has gone right for Howe, does not mean they should last very long.

For all the talk in recent days of Newcastle being title contenders, it always sounded far-fetched for those who have watched this team progress from relegation fighters to European contenders in the space of 12 exhilarating months. This was probably proof why that target remains out of reach, but there is still much for Newcastle to look forward to in 2023.

Newcastle United 0 vs Leeds United 0 – as it happened

Source: telegraph.co.uk