NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United’s returning hero Harvey Barnes says he has a lot of ‘making up to do’ after the ‘toughest period’ of his career.
Barnes returned from five months on the sidelines with a foot injury to net the Magpies’ equalizer in a remarkable 4-4 home Premier League draw with Luton Town. His late leveller ensured Newcastle claimed a point on home turf, coming from 4-2 down to take something from the topsy-turvy encounter, in which the hosts had twice led in the opening 45.
Sean Longstaff goals had seen United go 1-0 and 2-1 up early doors, Gabriel Osho’s headed leveller sandwiched in-between. Ross Barkley then levelled again just before half-time, as the Hatters took total control around the hour when a Carlton Morris penalty and a Elijah Adebayo finish made it 4-2.
That saw Barnes called from the bench — and a Magpies comeback was stirred. Skipper Kieran Trippier netted a left-footed volley, before Barnes curled home brilliantly with 15 minutes left.
And while delighted to have finally got back out there for Newcastle, having made little impact since signing in the summer, Barnes was disappointed his side couldn’t go on and win it.
“It has been a long period. It has been my toughest period in football,” said the 26-year-old.
“When you come to a new club the last thing you want is another injury. It’s so tough and a couple of set-backs. But you know I have been working from this moment to get back and dreaming of coming on and scoring. It wasn’t the winner, but we showed good character to come back.”
A chance or two did fall Barnes and Newcastle’s way, but they couldn’t quite grab a late winner. On getting a winner, Barnes added: “Yeah, I did. We had a couple of chances at the end and we were pushing. I think if any team was going to win it would have been us.
“It was a mad game. Watching on for the first 60 minutes I was trying to figure out how I could impact it when I came on. But it was so unpredictable. We are disappointed that we didn’t win. When we were ahead you want to extend that lead and keep the lead.
“I think we are getting there. We are starting to get back to our best. There are definitely improvements and the week-to-week games will give us a chance to work on that on the training pitch. We are going to have more coming back fit and there is a really good chance for us to have a string finish to the season.
“We want to be pushing as much as we can toward those top spots. We know we are capable of having a good run so we will keep pushing.”
Following on from the 3-1 win at Aston Villa, it was not the result many expected — and it does little to press home any confidence the Magpies can build a late charge for the Premier League top six.
Head coach Eddie Howe was impressed by his side’s resilience in coming from behind in the second half, but saw plenty of things to work on, too.
He said: “I think it was a game that had, for the neutral, everything. For any supporter of a respective team, some good bits and not so good bits. There are some things for us to work on.
“There are a lot of thoughts but you need the coolness of mind to watch it back and improve.
“I think that is the big positive from today, we haven’t done that enough this season. I thought we did it really well. I think we became a bit desperate in our desire to score. I think we were good attacking-wise and really fluent in that regard.”
One huge negative from the encounter was the withdrawal of talisman Anthony Gordon at half-time. The player left St. James’ Park in a protective boot. And when asked how serious the issue is, Howe said: “No idea. It was sore enough for him to come off. That was his decision, he knew he couldn’t continue. Obviously we hope it’s not bad, he’s such an important player for us and we missed him when he went off.”