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Newcastle Utd 1 Burnley 1

Nick Pope penalty save and late Sam Vokes header earns Clarets vital point

31 January 2018

Sam Vokes came off the bench to claim a crucial late equaliser for the Clarets and get Sean Dyche’s men moving back in the right direction.

Burnley were in danger of a fourth successive league defeat to continue a tough start to 2018 when Jamaal Lascelles headed Newcastle into the lead 20 minutes into the second half.

That could have been enough to end United’s own poor run and give Rafa Benitez’s a first home win since early October and some breathing space above the relegation zone.

But the Clarets - helped by an impressive debut from the bench from new signing Aaron Lennon - refused to accept defeat and with five minutes to go, Vokes headed home via a helping hand from goalkeeper Karl Darlow to cap a character-full fightback and deservedly stop the rot.

A first win in nine matches still proved elusive but a first goal in three games – coupled with Nick Pope’s first-half penalty save from Joselu – will have done wonders for confidence as Burnley got things back on track before Saturday’s visit of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

The Clarets, now beaten just once in five away league games, delivered the news before kick-off that Steven Defour would miss at least two months with a knee injury that requires surgery, bringing an end to the midfielder’s ever-present Premier League record.

Ashley Westwood therefore came in for his first league start of the season, with a second change forced on Dyche by the injury enforced absence of James Tarkowski.

Kevin Long’s return to defensive starting duty alongside Ben Mee meant a second St James’ Park appearance for the Irishman, whose first on New Year’s Day, 2015 had been cruelly ended by a long-term knee injury.

If Long had any lingering negative thoughts they didn’t show as he made a solid start, capped by a vital interception at the near post to stop a low cross from Kenedy reaching Joselu.

Kenedy made his Newcastle debut following a loan move from Chelsea and the Brazilian was a pivotal figure in a highly competitive first half.

His curling shot after 17 minutes thudded against a post via a deflection off Long and the finger-tips of Pope as Newcastle were only inches away from going in front, Pope getting down quickly to smother the rebound from Christian Atsu.

And it was the impressive Kenedy who was fouled by Phil Bardsley to concede the 33rd-minute penalty which gave the home side the clearest chance yet to grab the initiative.

It was the first spot-kick the Geordies had been given this season and Joselu wasted the chance as his effort was well saved by Pope, diving low to his left.

The Clarets have not been awarded a penalty either, and once again they had an appeal turned down mid-way through the opening half as they enjoyed some respite from Newcastle's pressure with a flurry of activity in the United box.

After Long had missed a chance to convert a Johan Berg Gudmundsson free-kick, full-back Paul Dummett lost his footing and then appeared to impede Jack Cork as the pair went to ground.

But referee Simon Hooper waved play on, something he didn’t do moments later when Lascelles was out-muscled by Ashley Barnes, who was penalised for the slightest of touches on the defender before drilling the ball into the back of the net – denying the Clarets a half-time lead.

The increasingly influential Barnes had also sent a long-range effort wide moments before the break, but that was nothing like the chance the striker had to break the deadlock five minutes after the re-start.

Birthday boy Jeff Hendrick created the opening with a cute header but after making space for a shot, Barnes couldn’t keep his left-footed shot down as Newcastle – without a win in seven home league games – survived a further setback.

With the Clarets sensing the momentum may be going their way, Dyche wasted no time in sending on Lennon with an hour gone to add a further attacking threat and the former Everton man immediately made his presence felt with a thrusting run.

But six minutes after the change it was Newcastle who went ahead when Lascelles met Kenedy’s in-swinging corner with a powerful header which flew past Pope from eight yards.

Joselu then dragged a shot wide with the chance to seal the points for United, leaving the Clarets almost 20 minutes to try and find an equaliser with Vokes on to partner Barnes in a switch to 4-4-2.

With an extra target to aim for Lennon looked capable of unlocking Newcastle’s defence and it was the former England international who nearly levelled things himself when he sneaked in at the far post for an effort blocked by Darlow at the expense of a corner.

Newcastle held out from the first but when Cork got the chance to deliver again, Long won a header which Vokes glanced over the line via Darlow’s hands and the underside of the bar to claim a perfectly-timed fourth goal of the season.

If anyone was going to win it in the dying moments it looked likely to be the Clarets as they continued to camp around the United penalty area with GK Nkoudou further stretching the hosts' defence in a lively late cameo.

But even though there was to be no dramatic final twist, a fourth draw in Burnley's last five away games ended a testing month on a high with a return to seventh place in the table.

Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Long, Mee, Taylor, Gudmundsson (Nkoudou 83), Westwood (Vokes 70), Cork, Arfield (Lennon 60), Hendrick, Barnes. Substitutes: Lindegaard, Lowton, Ulvestad, Wells.

Booked: Barnes, Vokes

Newcastle Utd: Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Atsu (Murphy 64), Diame, Merino, Kenedy (Ritchie 72), Perez (Gayle 85), Joselu. Substitutes: Woodman, Shelvey, Hayden, Manquillo.

Booked: Yedlin

Referee: Simon Hooper

Attendance: 50,174


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