- Newcastle came from behind to claim a hard fought victory over Bournemouth
- Harry Wilson tucked home neatly after a superb Bournemouth set piece routine
- But DeAndre Yedlin levelled for the hosts after nodding beyond Aaron Ramsdale
- And Newcastle edged in front after the break through Ciaran Clark’s finish
Ciaran Clark fired Newcastle to a narrow victory against Bournemouth at St James’ Park
The Republic of Ireland man wheeled away in elation after handing Newcastle the lead
The hosts’ centre half recorded his second goal in two games with a close range effort
The American full-back’s finish was subject to a brief VAR check but the goal was awarded
Harry Wilson had netted Bournemouth’s opener at St James’ Park with a superb effort
The Liverpool loanee latched on to Ryan Fraser’s cutback to drill into the bottom corner
Never did Steve Bruce imagine the November break would actually arrive at a bad time, for he confessed this week that merely avoiding the sack to this point would be a relief.
After the darkness of a 5-0 drubbing at Leicester in late September, the head coach had seen his dream job turn into a nightmare. Bruce was in survival mode and, as he admitted prior to this game, protecting his employment had become his chief motivation.
And so it is that he will enjoy the next fortnight and the sight of a league table that has his team in 11th and seven points clear of danger. After seven points from nine the last thing they need is a 16-day layoff.
This latest win was deserved given the spirited manner of the turnaround, their first come-from-behind triumph since March.
But it could – and perhaps should – have been very different, for Bournemouth were magnificent during the first half hour in which they opened the scoring and threatened to add at least another couple.
‘That was hugely frustrating and disappointing,’ said Cherries boss Eddie Howe. ‘We started so well and created a number of chances. Then we made uncharacteristic errors and gave Newcastle encouragement.’
Bruce agreed. ‘It was very difficult the first 25 minutes or so,’ he said. ‘We were a bit fortunate but we got the equaliser at a good time and after that we were the team who deserved to win. I was delighted with the attitude and spirit.’
Newcastle (3-4-3): Dubravka 6; Fernandez 8, Lascelles 6 (Dummett 20, 7), Clark 7.5; Yedlin 7, Shelvey 7.5, Hayden 6.5, Willems 7; Saint-Maximin 7.5 (Atsu 90), Joelinton 7 (Carroll 83), Almiron
Subs not used: Darlow, Gayle, Krafth, M Longstaff
Scorers: Yedlin 42, Clark 52
Bookings: Hayden, Fernandez
Bournemouth (4-4-2): Ramsdale 6; Smith 5.5 (Danjuma 78), Ake 6.5, S Cook 5, Rico 6 (Solanke 66, 6); Fraser 7.5, Billing 6.5, L Cook 7, H Wilson 7 (Francis 66, 6); King 7, C Wilson 6.5
Subs not used: Boruc, Gosling, Stacey, Mepham
Scorers: H Wilson 14
Ref: M Atkinson 6
Bruce, though, could well be thinking about accommodating some of his defenders in attack after another victory inspired by his men at the back. Seven of Newcastle’s last nine goals have been scored by defenders and it was DeAndre Yedlin and Ciaran Clark who netted here to reverse Harry Wilson’s opener.
While that is a point of celebration, it is also one of concern given their front three of Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin still have one goal between them this season.
‘If we’re going to be critical then we’ve had five or six one-on-ones in the last two games and not scored from any of them,’ said Bruce.
The form of the likes of Clark and Federico Fernandez is masking the inefficiency of their team-mates at the other end of the pitch.
Clark was not even getting stripped earlier in the season but now finds himself the first name on the teamsheet, not to mention the scoresheet. He and Fernandez were also on target during last weekend’s win at West Ham.
‘Ciaran Clark was probably questioning his place in the squad,’ added Bruce. ‘But he is a prime example of someone taking their chance. He’s done remarkably well coming from nowhere, to see him scoring the winner when six weeks ago he was not even travelling.’
Bournemouth had started much the brighter and it came as no surprise when they took the lead on 14 minutes, even if the nature of the goal caught Newcastle completely on the hop.
By that point they had already seen Ryan Fraser somehow miss from two yards out when he bundled the ball straight at Martin Dubravka. Fraser had also shaved the roof the net with an ambitious drive from 25 yards and Callum Wilson headed narrowly over.
It was from the resulting corner – the ball had brushed off Clark – that the visitors claimed a deserved lead, and it was stunning in its execution.
Fraser rolled the ball low to King who immediately returned it and the corner-taker swept first time to the penalty spot. And that was where Harry Wilson had appeared after peeling from his marker at the far post and the Liverpool loanee steered into the bottom corner. It was a ruthless routine.
Within minutes Diego Rico cracked the bar as the Cherries threatened to add a second and Fraser then went around Dubravka only for Yedlin to recover and block his effort on the goal-line.
So it was against the run of play that Newcastle drew level on 42 minutes when Yedlin threw his frame at Allan Saint-Maximin’s deflected cross to head in.
Seven minutes after the interval and they were in front when Clark nicked home after Fernandez had helped on a Jetro Willems cross – again, three defenders at the heart of the goal.
It was Newcastle who looked the more likely scorers as the half wore on and Joelinton was denied by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale before Miguel Almiron fired into Saint-Maximin, who inadvertently deflected the ball over the crossbar from the six-yard line.
And the hosts could have paid the price when Josh King headed inches wide at the far post in stoppage-time.