An emotional Eddie Howe was left with mixed emotions after watching Newcastle battle back to earn a 1-1 draw at old club Bournemouth in a match where they lost three players to injury.
Marcos Senesi poked the struggling Cherries ahead on the half-hour mark but Miguel Almiron’s 10th goal of the campaign got the fourth-placed Magpies back on level terms.
There would be no further goals on the south coast and instead Newcastle left with Joe Willock, Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin carrying fitness concerns that will leave all three sweating given the Carabao Cup final takes place in a fortnight.
Howe, who was also without Callum Wilson due to a knock, said: “Miggy and Maxi, I don’t think are too bad. Miggy got stamped on his hand, so we think he’ll be okay. Maxi was just a knock.
“The concern from today is Joe who has gone off with a hamstring problem so we’ll wait and see how he is.
“Certainly, yeah (we’re struggling to win), but I think there is a lot to consider. We’re on a long unbeaten run, teams are preparing well against us but you’d expect that. It is the Premier League.
“It is up to us to find solutions but the real positive is we are not losing games. Despite not winning, we’re keeping our points tally moving in the right direction and if you look around league, the league is so tight.
“There are a lot of results that mean the challenge for us is to be as consistent as we can. We’re going through a phase where we’re creating chances but not scoring and I think that will end, I don’t think that can continue.”
This result extended Newcastle’s unbeaten top-flight run to 17 matches but was a fifth draw from their last six league fixtures.
It could have been worse had Kieran Trippier not stopped Dominic Solanke’s goalbound flick in the 89th-minute with the whole of the ball agonisingly close to crossing the line.
After seven minutes of stoppage-time passed with little incident, Howe was able to accept the acclaim of the Bournemouth crowd on his first return back to the club – which he guided from League Two to the Premier League – since his 2020 departure.
“It only struck me at the final whistle when I knew what was about to happen,” Howe, who spent a combined 22 years with the Cherries as a player and then manager, admitted.
“Yeah it was emotional, I’m not going to hide that fact. I think with how long I had been at this football club without the chance to say goodbye to people that gave me so much in my life and not just me but for my family as well. It was difficult.
“I thought the Bournemouth supporters were amazing with me today, I cant thank them enough for that. It was just a chance for me to thank them and yeah, it was a very special moment.”
While Newcastle missed the chance to move four points clear of Tottenham in fifth with this draw, Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil was left to reflect on what might have been for his side.
The Cherries have not won in the division since November but had Solanke netted late on and earned them all three points it would have moved them out of the relegation zone.
O’Neil said: “Newcastle are fourth so it was always going to be tough to win the game. I felt we deserved to.
“We had the better chances. The longer the game wore on, we looked to win it. A bit disappointed we didn’t take all three points but we improved again.”