Rafael Benitez taking positives from goalless draw at Southampton

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Rafael Benitez insisted Newcastle’s goalless draw at Southampton was a point gained despite their winless start to the season extending to 10 matches.

Benitez’s side continue to set unwanted club records for their poorest start to a campaign and they never looked likely to break their win duck on the south coast.

But they were able to pick up a third point of the season – and actually climb off the foot of the table – thanks to some dogged defending and wayward finishing from a Southampton team who are almost as poor.

“We have to consider where we are and where Southampton are,” said Benitez, who retains the support of the travelling Toon fans who sung his name while once again going through their repertoire of unpleasantries towards owner Mike Ashley.

“They were pushing hard in the second half and we had to defend and I have to take the positives; a point and a clean sheet away.

“In terms of work rate and team spirit can’t complain about that. We have to be a little bit better on the ball but both teams were anxious.

“It’s important for us to have the fans behind us. The fans realise it’s a difficult situation and they got behind the team.”

Saints have now not scored in the league for over a month, yet it was not for the want of trying in a one-sided match desperately low on quality .

They came closest towards the end of the first half when Ryan Bertrand’s cross was turned on to the outside of the post by Mario Lemina.

Newcastle, to their credit, put their bodies on the line after the break when Danny Ings’ shot was bravely blocked by Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett threw himself in front of Nathan Redmond’s drive.

Yet with two minutes to go substitute Shane Long should have scored the winner, only to sidefoot wide to ensure Saints equalled an unwanted record of their own, having now gone five home games without a win from the beginning of a season.

“It’s disappointing once again in respect of not getting what we deserved, we had 22 shots and we weren’t able to convert any of them,” said Southampton manager Mark Hughes.

“Newcastle came here and every time we tried to press they were looking to turn us around. It’s difficult to maintain momentum when people are constantly knocking the ball over the top.

“At the end of the day it’s back-to-back clean sheets, but at the top end of the pitch we need to start scoring goals.

“Clearly we are creating chances, right at the death we had a good chance for Shane, there were balls bobbling around the box, but sometimes you need something to go in off someone’s backside and the football gods aren’t smiling on us at the moment.”

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