TOON STRUG­GLE AT BOTH ENDS AS A LONG, HARD WIN­TER LOOMS

Sunday Sun - - Football -

fi­nal third was there for all to see in the first half and a move that started with Ritchie mak­ing a good run and cross down the right, ended with Shelvey hope­lessly clipping the ball over the bar three min­utes be­fore the break.

With United des­per­ate for the half-time whis­tle and a chance to re-or­gan­ise, Zeege­laar’s stop­page­time cross from the left was bun­dled into his own net by DeAn­dre Yedlin.

At half-time, there were pock­ets of boos as New­cas­tle put in one of their worst first-half per­for­mances of the sea­son.

It could have been game over at the start of the sec­ond half when An­dre Gray raced down the left but scuffed his shot wide.

Zeege­laar con­tin­ued to tor­ture Yedlin down his side of the pitch and pro­duced a good cross on 63 min­utes which Gray was able to slot home un­marked at the back post.

New­cas­tle had a good chance mid-way through the sec­ond half with Mur­phy’s low cross for Joselu but his weak ef­fort was eas­ily smoth­ered by Gomes.

Benitez made a dou­ble change in the fi­nal 20 min­utes when he threw on Alek­san­dar Mitro­vic and Mikel Merino.

Joselu and Mo Di­ame made way as New­cas­tle tried to claw their way back into the game.

Merino’s first con­tri­bu­tion was to pick out Mitro­vic but he didn’t read the pass and the ball rolled out of play.

Benitez’s last throw of the dice was to in­tro­duce Ay­oze Perez for the fi­nal 14 min­utes as he re­placed Mur­phy.

Gray was of­fered another clear chance for Wat­ford with eight min­utes left but struck tamely at Rob El­liot.

Mitro­vic had a shot blocked at the Gal­low­gate End in the clos­ing stages as New­cas­tle at­tempted to make the score­line re­spectable, but they were un­able to find a way through Wat­ford’s de­ter­mined rear­guard.

Few were ex­pect­ing any type of come­back and it could eas­ily be ar­gued this game was done and dusted as soon as Yedlin flicked the ball into his own net just be­fore the break.

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