Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot made light of fitness concerns by turning in an inspired display as Steve McClaren’s team stole a 1-0 win over fellow Premier League strugglers AFC Bournemouth.
Striker Ayoze Perez netted the winner after 27 minutes from Newcastle’s only shot of the first half.
That measured up to 12 attempts on goal from Bournemouth in the opening period but Elliot – whose thigh problem left Newcastle pondering a plunge into the emergency loan market this week – ensured there would be no way through.
Wasteful finishing also played its part as Eddie Howe’s side drew a blank for the third consecutive match in all competitions.
Newcastle climb out of the relegation zone at the expense of Bournemouth, who have lost all four Premier League games between the October and November international breaks.
Josh King and Junior Stanislas came on at half-time to spark an improved performance in their side’s 2-0 defeat at Southampton last time out and they were rewarded with starts against an unchanged Newcastle.
King stung Elliot’s palms with an angled shot in the fourth minute before Paul Dummett blocked a Matt Ritchie attempt amid a sluggish start from the visitors.
Elliot’s fitness concerns were done no favours in the 14th minute as he was forced to spring from his goal and deny King after Chancel Mbemba sloppily gave away possession.
Bournemouth were zipping the ball around on a slick playing surface to fine effect and Elliot was called upon once more when the impressive King danced around Fabricio Coloccini.
It was therefore against the run of play when Georginio Wijnaldum collected Aleksandar Mitrovic’s backheel and played in Perez to open the scoring – Adam Federici getting a strong hand to the ball before it crossed the line for Bournemouth’s latest forgettable piece of goalkeeping this season.
By contrast, Elliot continued to distinguish himself by keeping out set-piece headers from King and Dan Gosling either side of Adam Smith fizzing a drive narrowly over.
The story continued inside the first minute of the second half, with Elliot at full stretch to keep out Ritchie’s header after the Scotland international’s wonderful dummy sent Smith charging down the right.
Former Newcastle midfielder Gosling then missed his kick from close range and Stanislas blazed over as Bournemouth’s composure in front of goal again undermined their dominance of the contest.
McClaren substituted Mitrovic after 63 minutes, switching to a central midfield three and moving Perez to a wide role – a tactical tweak that served to stem the hosts’ free-flowing approach.
Bournemouth lacked for ideas and could not conjure an equaliser during the closing stages, meaning Howe’s men have now taken a solitary point from their past six Premier League outings.
Key Opta stats:
– Victory was Newcastle’s first PL away win in their last 13 top-flight games (W1 D2 L10).
– Newcastle’s opening goal courtesy of Ayoze Perez came via their only shot of any kind in the first-half and their only shot on target in the whole game.
– The goal also ended a PL goal-drought of 212 minutes for the Magpies.
– Bournemouth mustered a total of 20 shots in the game (including blocked efforts), their most in a PL game in 2015-16.
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