Newcastle’s pre-season started with a defeat to German minnows Chemnitzer last night, writes Miles Starforth.
Alan Pardew’s side were beaten 1-0 by their Third Division hosts in a low-key friendly deep in eastern Germany.
Anton Fink scored the only goal of a game which was all but decided by the home side’s greater fitness and sharpness – in their seventh of pre-season. Pardew’s players, by contrast, had been back in training a little over a week, and it showed at the Stadion an der Gellertstrasse.
The game was remarkable only for the first appearances of new signings Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano.
Amalfitano, handed a start, busied himself on the left wing for much of the game, while Bigirimana was a late sub.
Newcastle started slowly, and they went behind in the 12th minute when Sascha Pfeffer played a ball down the right channel to Fink, who beat goalkeeper Rob Elliot with a confident finish.
The Tynesiders – backed by almost 100 fans tucked into a corner terrace, and a few dozen more scattered around the home areas – struggled to impose themselves in the early stages, and Elliot produced a fine save five minutes later to deny Marcel Wilk’s header.
With Fabricio Coloccini, Cheik Tiote, Steven Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux and Papiss Demba Cisse watching from the stand, Newcastle slowly eased their way into the match, but Chemnitzer looked the more dangerous attacking team.
Dan Gosling forced a fine save with a fierce shot from a deep cross from James Tavernier. Haris Vuckic – leading the line with Sammy Ameobi – also tested Philipp Pentke, and James Perch made a key interception at the other end.
Pardew sent out an unchanged team for the second half, and Amalfitano had an early chance, but his side-footed shot was weak and easily gathered.
Carsten Strasser tried his luck from distance, but his effort fizzed narrowly over Elliot’s bar, and Chemnitzer were good value for their lead.
Ameobi put a header on to the roof of the net, and the closest Newcastle went to scoring was when the keeper miscontrolled a backpass from Wilke, Pentke only just stopping the ball rolling into his own net.
Vuckic put another chance wide before Pardew sent on Bigirimana, Davide Santon, Danny Simpson and Shola Ameobi in the 70th minute, but Newcastle could not conjure up a goal.
Boss Pardew declared himself happy: “There was no trouble, and that was pleasing. There were no silly fouls, or no injuries.
“It is a good start, apart from the result.
“They are a professional side, and it goes to show that in extra games that level of fitness is important. It makes a big difference. It was a good work out though.”
Newcastle will have to raise their game against Claudio Ranieri’s Monaco in Landsburg on Monday (6pm – live on ESPN), though captain Fabricio Coloccini and Cheik Tiote – who sat out the Chemnitzer game – are expected to play.
Pardew added: “We now have a harder game coming up. We will play a more experienced side in that one. Nobody did themselves any harm.”
Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa will not be involved in this tour, and will instead join up with their team-mates ahead of Newcastle’s visit to Portugal later this month.
CHEMNITZER: Pentke; Stenzel, Wilke, Wachsmuth, Birk; Pfeffer, Kegel, Strasser, Landeka; Forster, Fink.
NEWCASTLE: Elliot; Tavernier (Simpson, 70), Williamson, Perch, R Taylor (Santon, 70); Obertan (Gutierrez, 77), Abeid (Bigirimana, 70), Gosling, Amalfitano; Vuckic (Shola Ameobi, 70), Sammy Ameobi (Ba, 77). Sub not used: Harper. Att: 6,700