Newcastle interim manager Graeme Jones believes whoever succeeds him will “inherit a healthy football club pulling in the same direction” after Isaac Hayden’s equaliser forced a 1-1 draw at 10-man Brighton.
The result lifted the Magpies off the foot of the Premier League table in front of their prospective new boss Eddie Howe.
Brighton had taken the lead from the penalty spot midway through the first half, with Leandro Trossard sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Against the run of play, Newcastle struck a leveller in the 65th minute when the ball fell to Hayden, who volleyed into the back of the net.
Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez was sent off at the death for impeding Callum Wilson, with defender Lewis Dunk forced to briefly take the gloves and go between the sticks, yet the Seagulls held on.
“I wanted to win, the plan was to come here and win but when you have a marginal decision against you again with VAR in the first half it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself,” Jones said.
“I spoke to the boys at half-time and said nobody else is going to help us – it’s only us who can help us – and the response in the second half was the most pleasing part of today’s match.”
Former Bournemouth manager Howe was in the crowd at the Amex Stadium as the Magpies edged closer to making an appointment.
The 43-year-old was pictured sitting in the stands next to Amanda Staveley, whose consortium bought out Mike Ashley last month, with Newcastle understood to have agreed a deal in principle with Howe.
Jones believes he will be inheriting a solid squad.
“It’s easy to fracture in situations like this but we as a group haven’t allowed it,” the interim boss said.
“The boys are together… whoever comes in will inherit a healthy football club pulling in the same direction.
“You don’t achieve what we did today – of course we wanted to win it – but we don’t achieve what we did today with the response and the manner of the response if you’re not together.
“I think that’s so pleasing to me.”
The Magpies had not got the better of the south coast side since they were both in the Sky Bet Championship in 2017, and they were beaten 3-0 in both fixtures last season.
Brighton manager Graham Potter was not disheartened by his side letting a lead slip.
“We didn’t have the points before the game so it’s a point gained,” the Seagulls boss said.
“I thought we played well, certainly first half, really well. It’s not easy to play against a team that’s defending deep and has the quality attacking players that they have that can hurt you on the transition.
“So I thought they played really well until about an hour in, then they scored and we probably lost our way a little bit which is something to improve on, but the guys tried and tried.
“It’s hard to control things for 90 minutes in a Premier League game.
“But in the end it’s a point and we move on and it keeps the scoreboard ticking over and we have to just keep trying to improve.”