Eddie Howe praised his rearguard as Newcastle took a point from a goalless draw with Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
South Coast’s stalemate means both sides remain unbeaten after two games in the new campaign. Chances were slim as the Magpies had to dig deep to keep Graham Potter’s men at bay. The hosts enjoyed the best chances throughout the 90 minutes. And Howe acknowledged that taking something out of the game was an advantage.
“I’m always disappointed not to win, but very pleased with a point at the end, especially in the second half,” he told reporters.
“It was a difficult second half, Brighton played very well, we were lucky at times. We dug deep, showed great spirit and unity and got a valuable point.”
The former Bournemouth boss deployed Dan Burn at left-back as cover for the injured Matt Targett. And Howe was delighted with the way he did his job.
“I thought Dan did really well today. It’s difficult, even though it’s a small transition on the pitch, it’s a big one at the same time,” he added.
“He hasn’t played left-back for a while, but I thought he did really well against his old team today and made a crucial block at a key moment in the game.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with his attitude.”
And the boss also praised the way Sven Botman combined well with Fabian Schar to hold firm in the face of relentless pressure from the Seagulls.
“I thought he did really well. He looked composed, solid and had a good partnership with Fabby,” he continued. “I was very pleased with him and I thought he used the ball very well, especially in the first half.
“To come here and be part of a backline that keeps a clean sheet, even though it hasn’t always been quiet at the back.”
Howe salutes the Pope’s class
Goalkeeper Nick Pope he was also a busy man and made several key saves. He denied Adam Lallana, whose header in the second half appeared to be headed for the net.
And Howe feels he has signed a player who could make a real impact Newcastle.
“He is a very relaxed figure, very popular in the dressing room and has a real calm,” he added. BBC Sport. “The save from Lallana was first class.
“You’re only as solid as your defense, I think we’ve changed personnel, added strength and added depth. And we’ve got some really good characters in that unit now.
“And I think you saw that today, because we were under the cosh, but we stayed calm and battled.”
Next up for the Tynesiders is the challenge of facing champions Manchester City at home next Sunday. Pep Guardiola’s team looks as strong as ever. And it will be a good indicator of how far Newcastle have come.
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