KUFSTEIN: Newcastle United’s preseason trip to Austria ended with a defeat on Monday as an error by Kieran Trippier handed victory to Bundesliga outfit Mainz 05.
The England international’s attempt at a quickly taken free-kick backfired when the ball ricocheted to a Mainz midfielder, who played the ball in behind Trippier to winger Delano Burgzorg who found the back of Martin Dubravka’s net.
Head coach Eddie Howe refused to view the game in a negative light, however, instead pointing out that the preseason is more about fitness levels than results.
“I thought it was a better performance today than it was in our first game here,” said Howe, whose side beat 1860 Munich 3-0 on Friday. “It is the end of a long week, the lads have done a lot of training.
“I was pleased with certain aspects today; obviously we needed to improve around their goal. Our creativity wasn’t quite there.
“When you watch preseason games back, you have to have a critical eye while acknowledging where the lads are at. The most important thing is we’re ready for the first game (of the new season).”
United’s starting lineup, which was the same XI who were on the field at the end of the game in Saalfelden on Friday, totally dominated their opponents in terms of possession but goal-scoring chances were few and far between.
The best of the first half fell to New Zealand international Chris Wood but the striker fired wildly over the bar.
After the break, with United still in complete control, Trippier’s attempt to keep the game moving backfired when his free-kick cannoned off a Mainz player and Dutchman Burgzorg burst through on the United right to slot the goal home, somewhat against the run of play. Despite protestations, the referee ruled the initial block that led to the goal to be legal, even though the player was not 10 yards from the ball when the kick was taken.
A raft of changes made by Howe on the hour mark sparked Newcastle into life but they could not find a leveler.
The impressive Elliot Anderson and an ever-improving Allan Saint-Maximin attempted to carve openings down the left, while Emil Krafth managed to create the best chance of the 90. It fell to sub Callum Wilson, only for his powerful effort to be saved.
Next up for the Magpies is a behind-closed-doors clash with newly-relegated Burnley in Portugal on Saturday. Howe’s side will then take on Benfica at Estadio da Luz next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has revealed he expects to extend his contract with the Magpies. Question marks had been raised about his future at the club, with a year left to run on his deal. However, he told reporters in Austria that if he plays in just three competitive games in the coming season he will meet a target that triggers a clause in his contract for a 12-month extension.
“I’ve got three games to get another year and hopefully I should do that this season,” he said. “I mean, I’d be a bit worried if I didn’t.
“At the end of the day you’re always playing for a new contract and I’m not thick — I’m not getting younger, I’m 30 years of age and I look about 40. You just want to be part of it. The only way for this club is up and a lot of people would want to be in my shoes.”