Behind-closed-doors matches at Premier League stadiums are hopefully a thing of the past, but Newcastle and Burnley were the latest sides to do battle in such circumstances, and the Clarets did not need the Turf Moor faithful to get the better of the Magpies.
After a goalless 45 and an expected raft of changes for the second half, Burnley launched a swift attack in the 70th minute, which culminated in Erik Pieters feeding Jay Rodriguez to coolly slot home past Mark Gillespie, and Newcastle had no answer to the Englishman’s effort.
A three-game unbeaten run in pre-season has now come to an end – and the Magpies also began their summer period with a 1-0 defeat at York City – but Bruce’s men can take confidence from victories over Doncaster Rovers and Burton Albion before their long-awaited return to St James’ Park.
While the St James’ Park faithful will undoubtedly want to see their side produce the goods on the pitch, transfer activity off the field is where the concerns may currently reside, especially with the acquisitions of three academy prospects representing Newcastle’s only incomings thus far.
Even though a cluster of coronavirus cases threatened to derail Norwich’s preparations – with fixtures against Coventry City and Sheffield United having to be cancelled – Daniel Farke’s side returned to action with a five-star performance against Gillingham on Tuesday.
Adam Idah found the back of the net twice while Jacob Sorensen, Lukas Rupp and new signing Pierre Lees-Melou also struck in a routine success for the Canaries, who are now four for four during a confidence-boosting pre-season period.
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Victories over King’s Lynn Town, Lincoln City and Huddersfield Town preceded Norwich’s 5-0 thrashing of Gillingham, and Farke’s side have navigated their pre-season endeavours scoring 11 goals and conceding just one ahead of their final exhibition match at St James’ Park.
A 10,000-strong Carrow Road crowd witnessed their side ease to a convincing win in midweek, and the Canaries overcame Newcastle 3-1 thanks to Teemu Pukki’s hat-trick as recently as August 2019, but the most recent encounter at St James’ Park in February 2020 ended goalless