Eddie Howe hailed a “massive three points” for Newcastle as Callum Wilson’s second-half penalty secured a 1-0 victory against Brentford and ended a three-game losing streak.
In a scrappy encounter at St James’ Park, Wilson converted his spot-kick emphatically after Brentford goalkeeper Mark Flekken had charged off his line and clumsily fouled Anthony Gordon.
Brentford, unbeaten in four games before the trip to the north-east, were unable to muster a response and also lost full-back Rico Henry to a potentially serious knee injury in the first half.
For Newcastle, the narrow victory, following losses to Brighton, Liverpool and Manchester City, provides a timely boost ahead of their Champions League opener against AC Milan on Tuesday.
It wasn’t a fantastic performance from us but it was a gritty and determined one,” Howe told Sky Sports afterwards.
“It was one that showed a response, especially from the Brighton performance. It’s a clean sheet and a massive three points for us, and now we can look forward.”
AC Milan, Newcastle’s Champions League opponents on Tuesday, suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat to rivals Inter at the San Siro on Saturday.
“I don’t know whether that’s a good thing for us or not,” said Eddie Howe. “I need to watch that game and analyse it and we’ll try to give a good performance.”
Newcastle: Pope (7), Trippier (7), Botman (7), Schar (7), Burn (7), Longstaff (7), Anderson (7), Guimaraes (7), Barnes (7), Gordon (7), Wilson (8).
Subs: Almiron (6).
Brentford: Flekken (5), Hickey (6), Pinnock (6), Mee (6), Collins (6), Henry (7), Norgaard (6), Jensen (7), Janelt (6), Wissa (5), Mbeumo (6).
Subs: Roerslev (6), Schade (6), Onyeka (6), Maupay (6), Lewis-Potter (6).
Player of the match: Callum Wilson
How Newcastle clinched the win
Howe made five changes from the team beaten by Brighton before the international break but there was no immediate evidence of a reaction, with Newcastle again lacking fluency early on.
- Eddie Howe made five changes for Newcastle, with Aleksandar Isak and Sandro Tonali among those dropping to the bench.
- Brentford defender Nathan Collins returned to the side in Thomas Frank’s only change, with Kevin Schade dropping to the bench.
Instead, Brentford looked the more threatening side, with Aaron Hickey forcing a save from Nick Pope with an angled shot and Yoann Wissa missing an excellent chance when he failed to connect with a teasing Mathias Jensen cross at the far post.
Newcastle soon began to improve, however, and should have opened the scoring when Bruno Guimaraes met a Fabian Schar flick-on a few yards out following a corner, only for Flekken to make a smart reaction save with his feet.
Brentford saw Henry hobble off with his knee injury shortly before half-time and Newcastle’s improvement continued after the break.
Wilson, starting ahead of Alexander Isak for the first time this season, saw a close-range goal harshly disallowed by VAR after he was adjudged to have obstructed Flekken, but his winner arrived only a few minutes later.
Flekken again found himself in the spotlight as his needless foul on Gordon near the byline saw referee Craig Pawson point to the spot, with VAR this time upholding his decision.
Newcastle thought they had another penalty when Bryan Mbeumo handled following an aerial challenge with Harvey Barnes, but VAR again intervened, overruling Pawson because the ball hit the Brentford forward’s head before coming down onto his hand.
Brentford rarely threatened to pull themselves level in the closing stages, but did have one opportunity when Wissa again failed to convert from close range from another Jensen delivery, steering the ball wide when he should have hit the target.
The final whistle was greeted with huge cheers inside St James’ Park as the Magpies, although not at their fluent best, celebrated a morale-boosting win ahead of their midweek trip to Italy.
The story of the match
Howe: Milan trip did not influence selection
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe said: “I think there was a lot of relief in our emotions at the end.
“It wasn’t a fantastic performance from us but it was a gritty and determined one. It was one that showed a response, especially from the Brighton performance. It’s a clean sheet and a massive three points for us and now we can look forward.
“At any club you can’t lose games on a consistent basis. That can’t become a habit. We were determined to bounce back from the three defeats.
“Today was a really tricky one for us. Brentford are a really good team. We stayed in the game, didn’t concede and second half we were much better.”
On whether Tuesday’s trip to Milan influence his team selection, he said: “It was all about [Saturday’s] game. It was a difficult team to pick because a lot of players had gone away on international duty.
“The players who stayed, like Harvey Barnes and Sean Longstaff, trained really well, hence why they got the nod. I thought they deserved their chance.
“I haven’t talked about Milan at all. I don’t think anyone from the coaching staff has. It’s all been about Brentford. If anyone was half-looking at Tuesday night, we were going to lose that game tonight [Saturday]. So, really pleased with the focus.
“I think my mindset is to try and win every game. Whether that’s in the Premier League, the Champions League, the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup, they’re all important.
“There’s no preference to any competition, and in my mind the league form is so important. You’re judged over 38 games.”
Newcastle’s next game is away to AC Milan on Tuesday as they make their long-awaited Champions League return – kick-off 5.45pm.
The Magpies then travel to Sheffield United as they return to Premier League action on September 24, live on Sky Sports’ Super Sunday – kick-off 4.30pm.
Brentford’s next outing is at home to Everton on Saturday, live on Sky Sports – kick-off 5.30pm. The Bees then host Arsenal in the Carabao Cup on September 27 – kick-off 7.45pm.