Newcastle midfielder defends side's scoring abilities

Bournemouth players celebrate their win at Newcastle.Bournemouth players celebrate their win at Newcastle.
Bournemouth players celebrate their win at Newcastle.
Matt Ritchie defended Newcastle United's record in front of goal '“ after Rafa Benitez's side drew a blank against his former club.

Bournemouth won 1-0 at St James’s Park on Saturday after scoring in injury-time.

Newcastle, however, had created chance after chance before the break, but they couldn’t beat goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

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The defeat followed a another Premier League loss by the same scoreline to Burnley five days earlier. Newcastle have scored just 10 goals so far this season, but Ritchie doesn’t think the team has a problem in front of goal.

“I think it’s a bit harsh to say we haven’t been clinical enough,” said the winger, signed from Bournemouth last year. “You’re playing against top defenders, and you have to work hard for your chances.

“It would be wrong to say we haven’t been clinical enough. Each to their own – everyone will have their own opinions – but my opinion is that, yes, it would be nice if when you create a chance you score a goal, but it doesn’t always work like that.

“You’re playing against top defenders – it’s so quick out there. You’re not going to score with every chance you create.

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“You have to continue to create chances, and, hopefully, the more chances you create, the more goals you will score.”

Steve Cook’s stoppage-time header handed Bournemouth victory after Dwight Gayle saw a first-half strike controversially chalked off.

Defender Cook powered home from a corner in the second added minute to hand Eddie Howe’s visitors a third Premier League win of the season.

It came on a day when the Magpies were made to pay for missed chances. However, the bulk of a crowd of 52,237 left St James’ Park firmly believing Gayle’s 16th-minute strike should have stood, with television replay suggesting they may have had a point.

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Irked by suggestions that his team are boring, Magpies boss Rafael Benitez had launched a passionate defence in the run-up to the game by insisting they are organised rather than negative.

It was with some surprise then that his selection saw him opt to start last season’s leading scorer Gayle alongside Joselu, who has been employed as a lone frontman since his summer arrival on Tyneside.

But for that offside decision, the woodwork, the excellence of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and the bravery of defender Cook, the Spanish manager would have been richly rewarded for his bold approach inside the opening 45 minutes.

Begovic just managed to get his fingertips to Matt Ritchie’s stinging fifth-minute strike and then clawed Christian Atsu’s effort out of the top corner nine minutes later.

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When he was finally beaten by Ritchie’s 16th-minute effort, the ball came back off the post and Gayle was harshly adjudged to have been offside when he tapped home the rebound.

However, the visitors gradually forced their way into the game.

They should have been ahead with 52 minutes gone. With Newcastle defender Jamaal Lascelles hampered by injury, Callum Wilson was left unmarked as he ran on to King’s pass. He had just Rob Elliot to beat but fired into the side-netting.

Newcastle lacked fluency and accuracy as they tried to regain their momentum, with Bournemouth’s menace on the break growing.

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Clark saved the home side when he produced a fine block and clearance after Pugh had wormed his way into the box and looked certain to score, and Elliot had to beat away a Jermain Defoe shot.

But from the resulting corner, Cook climbed highest to win it, to the delight of the travelling fans.

Newcastle: Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles (Clark 55), Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu (Murphy 82), Gayle, Joselu (Perez 68). Subs Not Used: Diame, Darlow, Jesus Gamez, Mitrovic. Booked: Lejeune, Shelvey.

AFC Bournemouth: Begovic, Francis, Steve Cook, Ake, Daniels, Ibe (Defoe 76), Surman, Arter, Pugh, Callum Wilson (Adam Smith 76), King. Subs Not Used: Boruc, Gosling, Lewis Cook, Fraser, Mousset. Booked: Surman, Francis. Goals: Steve Cook 90.

Att: 52,237 Ref: Paul Tierney.