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Monday, November 29, 2021

Allan Saint-Maximin’s sure-footed sorcery pivotal to Newcastle survival – if they can cut out the stupid errors

Allan Saint-Maximin identified Newcastle supporters as the key to the club’s hopes of Premier League survival as he warned losing the backing of St James’ Park could result in relegation.

The inspirational Frenchman will have a major say in whether the planet’s most wealthy football club will be residing in the Championship for the third time in a little over a decade next season, but he believes that some significant others will also have a vital part to play in helping the Premier League’s only winless side recover from its increasingly perilous position.

Saint-Maximin’s sure-footed sorcery and turf-based terrorising of defenders is likely to be more pivotal than most aspects of the survival scrap in helping the division’s bottom club bridge the ever-growing gap to safety, but Saint-Maximin believes that, ultimately, salvation sits in the stands.

“The fans are the most important thing for me,” the winger said after underlining his cult status with supporters as the somersaulting-scorer was engulfed by a gleeful Gallowgate End when his late equaliser rounded-off a six-goal Keystone Cops caper at St James’ Park.

Rather ominously, the 24 year-old added: “If the fans at this moment don’t give the support to the team we will go down for sure. Everyone knows we need the fans to give us the power to come back in games and do the best things we can do.

“Their support in every game is vital even when we’re in a bad position and we never forget that. On reflection, it’s a bad day again. We improved and made a lot of chances but we still conceded too many goals. They had four shots on target and scored three times.”

As unstinting and loyal as that backing may be, supporters aren’t the ones out on the pitch, they’re not the ones forming part of a kittens-inducing defence, or a midfield which was over-run with alarming ease by their energetic Brentford counterparts. They’re not Joelinton, scorer of his side’s first equaliser, who with the goal at his mercy to win it late on inexplicably fell over.
They’re not Karl Darlow, escorting a routine shot from Ivan Toney into the net, an inopportune time for the Newcastle goalkeeper to make such a glaring error with Martin Dubravka recovered from injury and surely in line for a return against Arsenal at the weekend, another fixture Eddie Howe is set to miss as the manager continues to isolate in his hotel suite after testing positive for Covid.

Following some provocative badge-kissing when cancelling out an early Jamaal Lascelles header, former Newcastle forward Toney was in a more conciliatory mood after helping Brentford stem a four-match losing run to maintain a seven-point gap on Howe’s side.

Brentford’s other goals were provided by Rico Henry with an unopposed header and Lascelles deflecting substitute Frank Onyeka’s shot beyond Darlow, which ultimately wasn’t sufficient to secure a first victory in the North-East since 1934. Toney, shown the door at St James’ Park three years ago, said: “The goal meant a lot, but I didn’t feel like I had a point to prove here in particular. There’s a point to prove in every game I play.

“Whatever happened in the past has happened. Maybe I wasn’t ready, maybe I wasn’t good enough, who knows? At the time the club had a decision to make and that was to let me go, but there’s no hard feelings. It was nice to come back to where it all started and to see some old faces.

“The club still holds a special place in my heart and it will do forever, because without the stepping-stone of Newcastle I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Newcastle 3 Brentford 3: match report

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