Newcastle’s comeback victory against Southampton lifted the Magpies into the top half, and a lot of fans believed Andy Carroll’s introduction changed the game.
The big striker came on in the 59th minute for Joelinton, who struggled to justify his selection once again. Carroll gave us a focal point, allowing us to be more direct. Players got closer to the striker, meaning we picked up second balls and were able to stay on the offensive.
Carroll set up Jonjo Shelvey’s equaliser brilliantly, but another substitute was equally as impressive.
Steve Bruce decided to bring on Sean Longstaff in the 85th minute, replacing Miguel Almiron. Bruce went with three centre-midfielders, giving Longstaff his first bit of action since returning from suspension.
And his wicked effort from distance was parried by the Southampton keeper right into the path of Federico Fernandez, who tucked home his second of the season.
It was a great effort from Longstaff, but this wasn’t his only moment of brilliance.
Despite not being on the pitch for long, we saw the academy graduate’s defensive capabilities as well. He was getting in the faces of Southampton players, putting tackles in and disrupting play.
And when it looked like Southampton were going to get an equaliser, he threw his body in front of a shot and made a vital block. Had Almiron remained on the pitch, this might not have happened. That’s not a knock on Almiron, more a testament to Longstaff.
It proved to be another great substitution by Bruce, whose decisions certainly changed the tide of the game. If only he could have brought Allan Saint-Maximin off as well…