Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce admitted his job came with a health warning after watching his nine men hang on to beat Southampton.
The 60-year-old, who has been under intense pressure after a run of 13 games in all competitions with just one win, saw the Magpies scrap their way to a 3-2 victory. That was despite losing midfielder Jeff Hendrick to a red card and defender Fabian Schar to injury with all three substitutes having been used.
Asked about his emotions during an eventful afternoon, Bruce said: “A mate of mine said when I took the job that it came with a health hazard.
“The two minutes just after half-time summed it up, where we could have gone 4-1 up and looked very, very rosy indeed. Instead within a minute, it’s 3-2 and we’re down to 10 men. The last half an hour is awful, to be brutally honest.
“It’s not often you can hang on with 10 men for half an hour, let alone 25 minutes with nine men. The resilience of the team and the effort and the commitment of them was terrific.”
Newcastle looked to be cruising with 26 minutes gone when, after debutant Joe Willock’s 16th-minute opener, defender Jan Bednarek, playing after a successful appeal against his red card at Manchester United in midweek, turned Miguel Almiron’s shot into his own net.
Takumi Minamino marked his first appearance for the Saints with a goal four minutes later. But Almiron sent the Magpies in at the break 3-1 ahead after cashing in on a mix-up between goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and Ryan Bertrand.
Bruce bemoans injury issues
However, the real drama was to come in the second half, when James Ward-Prowse reduced the deficit with a sumptuous free-kick before Hendrick was sent off. Later, Schar was carried off on a stretcher 15 minutes from time.
But the hosts managed to hang on to claim a morale-boosting win, although at some cost with leading scorer Callum Wilson and full-back Javier Manquillo also having been added to the casualty list.
Bruce said: “We’re taking one step forward, it seems, and always two back. You can understand why managers were complaining because we were simply playing too much in December and January and most clubs are falling to pieces with it.”