Newcastle 1 Atalanta 0: Wood penalty seals win but lacklustre Toon prove why Howe is desperate for attacking transfers
CHRIS WOOD scored his first goal of pre-season – but Newcastle’s second-string attack once again showed why Eddie Howe is so desperate for reinforcements.
The Kiwi striker’s first-half penalty saw off Italian side Atalanta 1-0 at St James’ Park.
But while Toon’s front three of Wood, Jacob Murphy and Ryan Fraser are big on heart and endeavour, the lack of quality and guile was striking.
Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin are certain starters up top and wide left.
But despite being heavily linked with Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet, Magpies boss Howe could go into the new Prem campaign without a single attacking addition.
While Newcastle’s back line looks rock solid, Howe has bemoaned his side’s creativity at various points during the summer – and there was little change here.
Right wing is the position in most urgent need of upgrading, with neither Fraser nor Murphy proving they deserve a spot against Nottingham Forest next Saturday.
Miguel Almiron has been on fire this summer, and although he played in midfield here, is favourite to be given the nod by Howe on the wing for the season’s opener.
A near first-choice back five of Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Dan Burn and Matt Targett were rarely troubled during a low key game in front of over 40,000 Geordies.
Yet Newcastle struggled to create at the other end – until wonderkid midfielder Elliot Anderson was clipped in the box 38 minutes in.
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Wood, who last scored from open play in March, fired the penalty low into the bottom left corner, and the lively Anderson forced a great save from the top of the box just after the break.
With Jonjo Shelvey injured for the start of the campaign, there is a final midfield spot up for grabs alongside Brazilian pair Bruno and Joelinton.
And 19-year-old Anderson, billed by the Toon Army as the “Geordie Maradona” has done his chances of a first top-flight start no harm after another all-action display.
The Mags host Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, with star players Wilson, Saint-Maximin, Bruni, Joelinton and Sven Botman all set to start.
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