Newcastle boss Eddie Howe admitted that his players still lack the mentality to get over the line for a win in the Premier League.
The Magpies looked like claiming a crucial victory against Watford on Saturday in their battle against relegation. Indeed, Allan Saint-Maximin had given the St James’ Park hosts the lead early in the second half.
However, that galvanised Watford, who are also relegation candidates. And as the Hornets swung the momentum of the contest, they began to pin Newcastle back.
The Magpies – who had dropped 19 points from winning positions in the Premier League heading into Saturday’s game – eventually crumbled when Joao Pedro equalised two minutes before the 90 were up.
“[It’s] hugely disappointing, we were so close to the win we needed,” Howe told BBC Radio 5 Live. “In the first half we were on the front foot, created chances, scored the goal and went into protection mode too early.
“The goal was a killer blow for us, there were several things we could have done better in the build up.
“The crowd were excellent and fully committed, and they could see what the team was trying to give them.
“It was a great goal by Allan, my intention then was to put the game to bed. But we sat back too much, lost the intensity and Watford came into it. The longer we went on, the more anxious we got, we were desperate for the win.
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“We should have seen the game out, and were so close to doing. I think it is mindset and confidence, not the tactical side or the players ability. When you are used to winning, it breeds confidence. Had we got over the line we would be saying what a great defensive performance. There is a lot more work to do.”
The result means Newcastle remain in 19th place, still two points behind 17th-placed Watford.
However, the battle against the drop tightened as Norwich beat Everton at Carrow Road to move into 18th.
As a result, Burnley sit bottom but have four games in hand following recent postponements.
Saint-Maximin echoes frustration
Goalscorer Allan Saint-Maximin labelled it a “really bad night” for Newcastle.
“I think you can see my face. I am really disappointed,” he added when speaking to BBC Sport.
“We tried to do everything to win this game. To concede a goal with only three minutes left, it’s really difficult.
“It’s really hard because we know if we keep drawing we will not survive but we have to keep going.”
Saint-Maximin consequently called on Newcastle to “stop talking and to show” their fight.
The Magpies return to action next Saturday against Leeds United, who are also struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table.