Aaron Connolly denied first Premier League goal for Brighton by goal-line clearance
Irish U21 international sees chip cleared by Newcastle’s Fabian Schar at St James’ Park
Brighton’s Aaron Connolly lifts a shot over Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka only to see his goal-bound shot cleared off the line by Fabian Schar during the Premier League game at St James’ Park. Photograph: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Republic of Ireland under-21 international Aaron Connolly was denied a dream first goal in the Premier League as a dominant Brighton team were held to a 0-0 draw by Brighton st St James’ Park on Saturday evening.
Fabian Schar came to Newcastle’s rescue, acrobatically hooking substitute Connolly’s 74th-minute effort off the line to ensure the game finished goalless on a day when even Andy Carroll’s late introduction could not inspire the Magpies.
Connolly had only been on the pitch four minutes when his chance arrived, the 19-year-old from Galway agonisingly close to adding to his goal in the Carabao Cup against Bristol Rovers at the end of August.
Brighton headed off on the long journey home knowing they had left two points behind having dominated the game without being able to summon up the necessary quality in front of goal to clinch the victory their performance so richly deserved.
By contrast, Steve Bruce’s men could count themselves fortunate to have walked away with something to show for their efforts from a display which was greeted with boos on both the half-time and full-time whistles by a crowd of just 43,316.
It was the visitors who warmed to their task more readily as Dale Stephens, Davy Propper, Aaron Mooy and Pascal Gross dominated the midfield battle to the extent that the Magpies found themselves pinned back deep inside their own half with striker Joelinton marooned.
Martin Dubravka had to tip Lewis Dunk’s looping header from an 18th-minute corner over the bar, but it was opposite number Mat Ryan who was forced to make a vital block after Miguel Almiron, still awaiting his first goal in a black and white shirt, was played into space inside the penalty area by Isaac Hayden four minutes later.
Jamaal Lascelles threw himself into the path of Neal Maupay’s close-range 26th-minute strike with Dubravka scrambling across his goal, and Mooy blazed wide after Gross had cleverly flicked Propper into space down the right.
However, Joelinton should have headed the home side in front after being left unmarked as Jonjo Shelvey sent in a 31st-minute corner, but he guided his effort wide of the far post.
The Magpies left the pitch at half-time to a predictable chorus of disapproval, but Christian Atsu might have altered the mood markedly within seconds of the restart, instead firing wide from Joelinton’s pull-back, and Brighton’s response very nearly paid dividends.
Lascelles once again put his body on the line to deny Maupay, who had slipped past Schar with ease, and Gross sent a fierce shot inches over the crossbar with the home side chasing shadows once again.
Almiron provided some respite when his skipped away from full back Dan Burn and sent Ryan full-length as he attempted to pass the ball left-footed into the far corner.
Bruce sent on Ki Sung-yueng and Allan Saint-Maximin for Shelvey and Almiron as time ran down, but it was Schar who came to the rescue with a goal-line clearance after Connolly had lifted the ball over the advancing Dubravka.
Dunk was in the right place at the right time to block Joelinton’s 75th-minute attempt after Saint-Maximin had surged deep into Brighton territory, and Carroll entered the fray for the final eight minutes, but ultimately to no avail.