Long's header helps Saints deny McClaren a winning start
Newcastle 2 Southampton 2
Published 10/08/2015 | 02:30
There was no first victory for Newcastle United under their new head coach, Steve McClaren, but there were enough positives against Southampton to ensure any early-season optimism lasts longer than a summer suntan in the north east.
Newcastle held their own against Southampton who were without manager Ronald Koeman due to a recent Achilles operation.
The home side looked dangerous going forward, but the defence remains suspect and the performance of captain, Fabricio Coloccini, was of particular concern. The arrival of McClaren and three new signings over the summer has at least given the vague impression of a fresh start.
Newcastle have not spent any more in the transfer market this summer than they did 12 months ago, but Georginio Wijnaldum, Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic represent a far higher calibre of recruit than the bargain-basement buys that left Newcastle with a squad not fit for purpose.
Mitrovic was used as a substitute, looked short of match sharpness and was booked for a horrible tackle after replacing Papiss Demba Cisse, but while Mbemba was partly at fault for Southampton's first goal, he has the attributes of a top centre-back.
Wijnaldum scored a wonderful goal at the start of the second half, dashing the full length of the pitch to get on the end of a cross from Gabriel Obertan.
The home side had to cling on to secure a draw after Shane Long (above) headed in Southampton's equaliser with just over 10 minutes left.
The Ireland international easily outjumped Daryl Janmaat to nod in a Dusan Tadic cross.
Southampton had scored their first goal in similar fashion, when Graziano Pelle met Cedric Soares' cross, beating both Mbemba and Coloccini in the air. To Newcastle's credit, there was far more zest in their play than during their miserable end to last season.
McClaren's men deserved to go in at half-time level and Cisse bundled a deflected cross over the line after goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg had been wrong-footed.
Newcastle, though, were a little fortunate to hold on at the end as Sadio Mane twice got clear inside the area, only to fire one shot wide after another had been blocked by Jack Colback.
"It would have been a travesty if we had lost," said McClaren. (© Daily Telegraph, London)