Rafa Benitez knows dropped points are hurting Newcastle

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez admitted the Magpies only have themselves to blame after they dropped more points at Aston Villa.

Newcastle: Rafa Benitez knows dropped points are hurting NewcastleNewcastle: Rafa Benitez knows dropped points are hurting Newcastle

Aaron Tshibola’s late header earned the hosts a battling 1-1 draw after Tommy Elphick’s first-half own goal almost gifted the Magpies victory on Saturday.

The visitors were on top for long spells and Dwight Gayle and Mo Diame wasted fine openings before Tshibola levelled with just three minutes left.

The draw left Newcastle fifth, four points behind Sky Bet Championship leaders Norwich ahead of the Canaries’ visit to St James’ Park on Wednesday, and Benitez knows they blew their chance.

“We were so dominant in the first half we could’ve finished the game and now we’re talking about another thing,” said Benitez, with Newcastle having earned one point from their last two games against Wolves and Villa. “That’s football, you have to take your chances and we didn’t do it.

“We made some mistakes defending in the second half and we have to give credit to them but, for me, the positives were the first half and the negatives were the mistakes in the second half and that we allowed them to stay in the game.

“We had a lot of chances, so many clear chances we could finish the game but in the second half we have to defend a little better.

“It’s key for me to be consistent and we have to keep calm and work hard. You could see a great team in the first half creating a lot of chances but the final score means we didn’t take our chances, not that the team wasn’t good enough in the first half.”

Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo dropped and fined Jack Grealish, who earns around B£15,000-a-week, after a club investigation into his conduct following reports he partied at a Birmingham hotel last weekend but the midfielder will be available for Tuesday’s trip to Barnsley.

Di Matteo insisted the matter is now closed but warned Grealish he cannot continue to make mistakes after the Italian became the fourth Villa boss to admonish him.

He said: “We’ve fined the boy and he was suspended for today’s game. It’s not the first time but he needs to learn from the past and the only one who can do that is himself. He needs to make the right decisions.

“He’s 21 now and needs to understand what kind of career he has ahead of him. as long as he does what he’s supposed to do we will treat him like everyone else. every player you have to speak differently to and I have my way to speak with Jack.”

Without Grealish Villa struggled for much of the game but roused themselves after Mile Jedinak had a goal ruled out for offside with 22 minutes left.

Jordan Ayew then hit the post before Tshibola’s header but despite his goal Villa have still only won one of their opening nine games since relegation last season.

They had previously conceded four goals in the last five minutes of games to drop seven points this season but Di Matteo believes Saturday’s fightback will end their late nerves.

“I really hope so, against (Nottingham) Forest we turned the game around but unfortunately we conceded an equaliser. Today we got it back and pushed on to find the second,” he said with Villa 17th in the table. “There’s certainly a degree of belief that we’re still in the game and can win.

“Our challenge is to turn the draws into wins because we have drawn too many games and that’s what the table reflects.”

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