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Last week’s defeat at Southampton was hard to take having lost a 2-0 lead but yesterday’s 2-1 defeat against Newcastle United was even harder from a game we simply should not have lost.

Leading 1-0 through a Matěj Vydra goal, it all came crashing down for the Clarets around the hour when Newcastle scored twice in five minutes to take home the points and move within one point of us in the league.

For much of the first half hour we had been head and shoulders better than Newcastle and it was only the lack of a second goal I feel that prevented us taking the game away from them and rendering their substitutions useless.

With Erik Pieters declared fit, I’d expected us naming an unchanged team from the one that had lost at Southampton but there was one significant change with Bailey Peacock-Farrell coming in for Nick Pope who has a shoulder injury. It was just a second Premier League appearance for BPF and a first at home. Phil Bardsley was back on the bench but there was no Jay Rodriguez who is about to become a dad for the first time.

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We started so well. Our front two of Chris Wood and Vydra quickly had the better of things against the Newcastle defenders but the first real opportunity came from a corner that goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka did well to keep out.

The opening goal came on 18 minutes with much of the credit going to Wood who had scored in each of the previous three games. He latched onto a ball from Ashley Westwood down the left hand side. It looked as if he might cut in for a shot at goal but he instead got to the line, pulled it back for a gleeful Vydra to hit home with his marker Matt Ritchie having been taken away by an intelligent run from Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson.

For much of the remainder of the first half the only surprise was that we didn’t score again. We saw virtually nothing in response from Newcastle until the last few minutes of the first half when they had a Dwight Gayle goal correctly ruled out for offside before giving us a few anxious moments while VAR decided whether to give them a penalty against James Tarkowski whose high foot had made contact with Sean Longstaff, this after they’d been denied by an excellent Peacock-Farrell save. When I saw the pictures again I thought the penalty would be given; it wasn’t and we almost went straight down and scored again.

Again Dúbravka kept them in it with an excellent save to keep out what would have been an own goal from defender Paul Dummett, the same Paul Dummett who was the first player to score an own goal for us in the Premier League, that back on New Year’s Day 2015 when we drew 3-3 at St. James’ Park.

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You would imagine Steve Bruce would have had some harsh words for his team at half time. If he did, it didn’t make a lot of difference as we dominated the first ten minutes or so of the second half, winning corner after corner but unable again to get the second goal that would have put the game to bed. Dúbravka, by now, had surely become their man of the match. Under severe pressure he dealt with the corners and then tipped over a Matt Lowton shot although I think he’d have been disappointed not to have saved that one.

All the talk before the game was of the potential appearances of Newcastle duo Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin. The former hadn’t played for over two months, the latter had come on as a substitute last week having been out for five weeks.

Bruce had opted to have both on the bench and twelve minutes into the second half he brought both of them on. By then it really should have been too late for his side but it wasn’t and within no time at all the game had changed in Newcastle’s favour courtesy of Frenchman Saint-Maximin.

He’d played well against us up at St. James’ Park earlier in the season, as had Wilson, but he’s not been particularly effective this season. Even so, we looked petrified of him. Within two minutes he got down the right hand side, eventually pulling the ball back for Jacob Murphy who hit home with a shot from just inside the box.

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We didn’t have time to consider how to restore our lead; five minutes later and it was Newcastle who went in front. Jonjo Shelvey pushed the ball forward to Saint-Maximin in the centre circle. No one was close enough to him so he went off on a totally unchallenged run as our central defenders started to back off. He eventually took a step inside before hitting a left foot shot into the corner.

Our players looked shell shocked but would there be a response? There was but we didn’t really create much and I think this was another example of having to play in an empty ground. I’m not suggesting we would have equalised but I do think that with a home crowd roaring us forward we’d have possibly had more opportunities.

Wilson hadn’t really made much of a contribution at all; Saint-Maximin clearly had and was close to setting up a third when he got the better of Tarkowski to set up Miguel Almirόn only for Tarkowski to get back and clear his shot.

We kept going and I wondered if we might just get one chance when the board went up for four extra minutes. Unfortunately, almost half of that time was taken up with substitutions for which nothing was added on. Again, I’m not suggesting we’d have scored but this is an easy thing for a referee to get correct.

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And so, a second successive defeat having been in front, this one a hugely disappointing result because we should not have lost this game. We are better than Newcastle and, overall, we were better than Newcastle yesterday. It did just need that second goal and it would have been all over.

Much has been said about our home form. We’ve beaten just Crystal Palace, Wolves, Sheffield United and Aston Villa at the Turf this season. Add Watford to that and it’s just five wins in nineteen Premier League games with no crowds. A further eight of those games have been drawn.

I know our home form is poor and I all but mock people who talk about Fortress Turf Moor but I remain convinced that with crowds inside the Turf our record would have been much better.

Despite the defeat, we are no worse off this weekend with third from bottom Fulham also losing. If our concern is staying in the division then the lead over them is still seven points and they only have six games remaining. I’m convinced one more win will see us through but until that win comes we will continue to have some concerns. It would help though if we didn’t lose leads.

The teams were;

Burnley: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Joel Mumbongo 90+1), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Matěj Vydra. Subs not used: Will Norris, Phil Bardsley, Jimmy Dunne, Richard Nartey, Charlie Taylor, Dale Stephens, Jack Cork, Lewis Richardson.
Yellow Card: Josh Brownhill.

Newcastle: Martin Dúbravka, Jacob Murphy, Federico Fernández, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie, Miguel Almirόn (Jeff Hendrick 90+3), Jonjo Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Joelinton (Allan Saint-Maximin 57), Dwight Gayle(Callum Wilson 57). Subs not used: Karl Darlow, Javier Manquillo, Emil Krafth, Jamal Lewis, Joe Willock, Andy Carroll.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe).

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