Eddie Howe made no excuses for his side’s below-par performance after Newcastle were forced to settle for a frustrating 1-1 draw against Bournemouth at St James’ Park.
Howe’s first game in management against his former club threatened to turn into a nightmare when Philip Billing fired the Cherries in front in the 62nd minute.
The Magpies had failed to convert their territorial possession into chances but seized a lifeline three minutes later when VAR ruled a handball against Jefferson Lerma allowing Alexander Isak to slot home the equaliser from the penalty spot.
Howe said: “It was disappointing today – I thought it was a performance below the levels that we have set ourselves and probably for the first time this season we dipped.
“It’s difficult to know why in this moment – they defended very deep and it was our responsibility to break through them and I just felt we were off a little bit in every aspect of our game.
“It was probably epitomised by the last 20 minutes where we score and it looked like we were set up to win, but our decision-making left us. It was a difficult watch – we could have won the game and it slipped away from us.”
Their draw left the Magpies still searching for their first Premier League win since the opening day of the season, but with a solitary defeat also on their record, Howe will not panic heading into the international break.
“I think there is a sense of frustration in terms of the points, because the majority of our performances have been strong and we’ve deserved more, but the reality is we haven’t won those games,” added Howe.
“There were lots of things we didn’t do well today but the most pleasing thing is we went a goal down and we didn’t lose the game. There is a lot for us to take from today into future challenges, because it is still slightly new for the group.”
Bournemouth caretaker-boss O’Neil admitted some frustration that his side failed to come away with all three points and criticised referee Craig Pawson’s decision to award the penalty against Lerma.
“I understand that it’s difficult and I understand the referee going over (to the monitor), but I’m surprised at the conclusion he came to,” said O’Neil.
“Jefferson got in the way of the ball and his arm swings when he’s moving, he’s not looking at it. If I was looking at the VAR images there’s no way I’d have given a penalty in that moment. I thought it was harsh.”
O’Neil stressed he still had “no thoughts” about the possibility of taking over on a permanent basis, despite his star continuing to rise after another resilient display that stretched his unbeaten run since replacing the sacked Scott Parker.
“We went to Nottingham Forest two weeks ago and we suffered a huge blow with a VAR penalty just before half-time that sent us 2-0 down, and anyone watching thinks the lads are dead and buried,” said O’Neil.
“When it goes 1-1 today you hear the place rocking and I was thinking, it’s coming, let’s see what you’ve got, and they stood up. We spoke about managing the crowd and the atmosphere and they were excellent at it.”