Newcastle 1 Watford 1: Joao Pedro's late equaliser cancels out Saint-Maximin stunner as Toon home struggles continue

JOAO PEDRO 88th minute header left Newcastle pig sick after Allan Saint-Maximin’s wonderstrike moved them out of the bottom three for all of 39 minutes.

Toon were closing in on their biggest win of the season when Saint-Maximin skipped past two challenges and fired an unstoppable effort past Ben Foster four minutes after the break.

But their flaky defence came back to bite them again just when it mattered most.

Hornets sub Kiki Femenia drove to the right by-line and put in a decent cross.

But centre-backs Fabian Schar and Jamaal Lascelles were all at sea as Pedro got in between them to nod past Martin Dubravka and leave St James’ Park stunned.

Newcastle have had two weeks to sign a new centre-half and were made to pay for failing to get one over the line.

The point ends Watford’s horror run of six straight defeats and leaves Claudio Ranieri’s side clinging on above the bottom three.

New £25million striker Wood was thrown in from the start to make his league debut alongside fellow new boy Kieran Trippier.

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Eddie Howe’s biggest call was at left-back, plumping for Paul Dummet – making his first appearance since May following a nasty calf injury – over Matt Ritchie and the returning Jamal Lewis.

Ranieri handed debuts to all three new signings Hassane Kamara, Samir and Edo Kayembe, while Ben Foster and star man Emmanuel Dennis returned.

Tyneside was collectively bricking it before this six-pointer, with Alan Shearer yesterday morning tweeting: “Just get three points. Find a way to win. Just win.”

Howe was never going to say as much but in the matchday programme, Trippier declared: “It’s a must-win game, everyone knows that.”

Toon bossed it from the off and the tactics were hardly subtle: get it wide and whip it into the Wood-filled mixer.

But other than the odd half-chance the Magpies’ new striker barely had a sniff in the opening half.

Trippier’s set-piece delivery was consistently bang on the money yet the Hornets backline held firm for the most part.

Saying that, Joelinton had two great openings but stabbed Ryan Fraser’s deflected cross off the bar before firing wide unmarked at the back post soon after.

As bitty, tense and lacking in quality as it was always going to be between the two strugglers, the only shot on target came from Watford.

A tame header straight at Martin Dubravka, their best chance fell to Josh King after the up-and-down Allan Saint-Maximin gave it away in the middle, but the striker fired harmlessly wide off his left peg as it opened up.

Saint-Maximin was off the boil before the break and the groans from the terraces grew louder and louder each time one of his mazy dribbles came to nothing.

Four minutes into the second half and the Geordie masses were back in love with their maverick Frenchman though when he fired them into the most precious of leads.

Right-back Jeremy Ngakia had done well to keep him quiet early on but the winger got his revenge, robbing it off him on the touchline before making a beeline for the box.

Saint-Maximin slipped but was up in a flash, weaving inside past two challenges before rifling an unstoppable shot to Foster’s right.

As he danced off into the corner to bust some moves and soak up the adulation, the anxiety inside St James’ Park was replaced by

The game burst into life after the opener with Ranieri’s side forced to come out of their shell.

And it didn’t take long for them to slice open Newcastle’s shaky defence with King played through in behind Trippier.

One-on-one with Dubravka he had to score, but the Slovakian flew out and smothered it away.

The chances kept coming though and moments later a rapid counter fell to Moussa Sissoko, but the ex-Mag midfielder curled the golden chance just wide of the far post.

Pedro made no mistake late on though, getting on the end of Feminia’s cross to leave Howe and the whole of Tyneside stunned.

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