Ghana's No. 1

Shot count keeps rising for Newcastle's Karl Darlow who has 86 saves to his name this season

Published on: 18 October 2020

It has long been said that goalkeepers are mad - but keeping goal for Newcastle United is enough to drive even a sane stopper to insanity.

On Saturday night, Karl Darlow faced 28 shots on his goal. Across five Premier League games this season the efforts against column reads a staggering 86 - a divisional high.

Yes, not all of them find the target, but it is an indicator of a team riding its luck - and needing a very good goalkeeper with it.

Newcastle had that last season when they again conceded the most shots in the top flight and Martin Dubravka recorded 140 saves, more than any other keeper.

At least it is a means to improvement, for they certainly get plenty of practice. And that has been evident with Darlow this term, deputising for the injured Dubravka after two-and-a-half years without a Premier League appearance.

His confidence was clearly soaring when, at 1-1 approaching the hour, he leapt to become the first goalkeeper to deny Bruno Fernandes from the penalty spot after 10 successful conversions in United colours.

Ultimately, it mattered not. United won 4-1 after a flurry of late goals from Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford.

Darlow was the home side’s man-of-the-match. But what comfort do keepers take from that?

A pat on the back after letting in four is usually reserved for the lower-league stopper who has performed admirably against mightier opposition in the cup. Well done, son, it’s not your fault.

But that is what this felt like, even though Newcastle were given a second-minute lead when Luke Shaw put through his own net.

Steve Bruce’s side looked a gift horse in the mouth and duly let it kick them in the crotch. Rather than attempt to inflict further pain on an already-fragile opponent, the hosts allowed United to wrap themselves in a comfort blanket, affording them the luxury of the one thing they do best - attack.

It is to Darlow’s credit that the 86th minute arrived with the game still tied, but the scoreline was not a reflection on the balance of play.

More worryingly for Newcastle, Darlow played the final 15 minutes wincing towards the dugout after a clash with Rashford. Reserve keeper Mark Gillespie was stripped and ready but Darlow was allowed to see out the game. He will now be assessed ahead of next weekend’s trip to Wolves.

Fail to recover and Gillespie will come in for his Premier League debut having only ever played as high as League One. He will have ample opportunity to impress if so.


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