Newcastle United secured their place in the next round of the Carabao Cup with victory over Crystal Palace yesterday evening, with the home side running out winners following a nervy penalty shootout at St James’ Park.
The tie had gone the distance following what was a rather uneventful 90-minute affair, with the decision to make multiple alterations to the starting XI having backfired somewhat for manager Eddie Howe, as the Magpies’ fringe assets failed to truly take their chance, including promising youngster Elliot Anderson.
It was not only the squad’s peripheral figures who underwhelmed against Patrick Vieira’s side, however, with recent regular Sean Longstaff also letting the side down with his limp display, with the Englishman having been enjoying a strong run of form prior to that.
The academy graduate has started the northeast side’s last seven Premier League games heading into Wednesday’s cup meeting, although as the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder suggested, the clash with the Eagles simply proved ‘one game too many’, with the 25-year-old having not made ‘much impact’ in his midfield berth.
The local lad notably won just 14% of his ground duels, while also proving something of a liability in possession after losing the ball every 3.8 touches, before being hooked just after the hour mark in favour of Bruno Guimaraes.
That dismal showing – in which the £19.2m-rated man also made fewer touches (31) than teammate Nick Pope (38) – saw Longstaff record a measly match rating of just 6.2, as per SofaScore, with that the worst of any of his teammates.
The Shields Gazette’s Dominic Scurr was also notably critical of the playmaker’s display, awarding the £50k-per-week dud just a 5/10 rating, while also writing: ‘Couldn’t impose himself on the game in the way he has in recent matches. A quiet display prior to being substituted.’
The hope will be that this outing is merely an anomaly in what’s been an otherwise impressive campaign for the 6 foot 1 machine, having featured in all 14 top-flight games for the club this season, scoring once and laying on two assists.
Having only recently been lauded for his “excellent” form by Howe, it had come as something of a surprise to see Longstaff not at his best, with the upcoming World Cup break potentially an ideal time to secure a much-needed rest after featuring heavily of late.
Equally, despite somewhat letting his teammates and his manager down last night, those woes ultimately didn’t prove costly as the hosts secured progression.