IF Newcastle United want to deliver performances to suggest they have what it takes not to become distracted by the latest takeover talk, then this is a decent base to start from.

Not that Mike Ashley’s words carry much weight among the Magpies faithful, but his hopes for the team to show some decent form to help facilitate the sale of the club received some encouragement from the players at Goodison Park.

The Northern Echo:

Newcastle United's Salomon Rondon (left) and Everton's Lucas Digne. Picture: PA

Amid all the claims and counter claims centred on how far down the line Peter Kenyon’s attempts at fronting a consortium to buy out Ashley are, Rafa Benitez showed that why he is so integral to the future by showing again how he knows how to deliver results in the Premier League.

Everton might be sitting sixth in the top-flight, and boasting eight wins from their previous nine against Newcastle, but Benitez could look on and take a great deal of satisfaction from his side’s hard-earned draw.

And while Everton dictated most of the play and asked plenty of questions of the men in black and white, Newcastle withstood the majority of what was asked of them to return to the North-East with a point.

Newcastle, displaying quality on the break in the first half, surprised Goodison by taking the lead in the 19th minute when Salomon Rondon struck his fourth goal since moving from West Brom; fittingly it arrived at the end of a fine counter.

But Everton kept plugging away and, after an incredible couple of stops, Brazilian playmaker Richarlison pulled things level with seven minutes remaining of the first half and that suggested Marco Silva’s men could go on to win.

Yet, just days after suffering a 3-0 defeat to West Ham, Newcastle displayed resilience and desire to leave with a point, meaning it is now just one defeat from their last five to increase the gap over the relegation zone to four points.

As one of six matches before the window even opens, Ashley was quite right to suggest Newcastle need to concentrate on the sort of form required to keep them out of the bottom three. Benitez agreed.

While plenty of focus and interest is on how Kenyon’s push for the club is developing, that will count for little if Newcastle are in the bottom three after January if the deal takes that long to go through, if it does.

Newcastle, with three changes including the absence of suspended Matt Ritchie and toe injury victim Kenedy, hoped to take advantage of an extra day’s rest because Everton suffered the heartache of the last-gasp defeat at neighbours Liverpool on Sunday.

Toffees boss Marco Silva made the same number of changes, and looked to Ademola Lookman and Cenk Tosun to create the fresh attacking threat at home against a defensively minded opponent.

But it was Benitez’s fresh attacking impetus that initially proved crucial. Neither Jacob Murphy nor Christian Atsu started against West Ham but both had pivotal parts to play here.

The ploy to soak up Everton pressure and hit Everton on the break by using the pace of the two wide men was clear from the outset. There were signs of it even before the opening goal.

Before that arrived there were half chances for Richarlison and Tosun. The latter’s was the best of the two, although even then it was difficult for him to turn a header anywhere but wide and over having been picked out at the near post by Lucas Digne.

Just when it seemed Everton had taken control and were close to delivering the breakthrough, Newcastle struck with a little help from referee Lee Mason. The official allowed play to go on when Mo Diame appeared to bring Tosun down deep in the visitors’ half.

While the Everton striker complained, Newcastle broke. Murphy’s pace got him down the left and away from his man, where he curled over a perfect back post delivery for Rondon to apply the strong finish high and beyond Jordan Pickford.

Even though Martin Dubravka had to be alert to hold a Digne shot that would have instantly brought an equaliser, Newcastle hadn’t looked in much danger but then Everton turned things up a notch with half-time approaching.

When Everton fashioned their first brilliant chance, they found Fernandez in no mood to cave in. Digne’s cross from the left fell invitingly for Gylfi Sigurdsson ten yards out, with the goal to aim for. Somehow Fernandez managed to stretch his left foot to block.

Less than two minutes later it was level. After a Dubravka save had conceded a corner, Sigurdsson’s corner was not dealt with effectively and when the ball bounced to the back post Richarlison was on hand unmarked to finish.

From a position of strength, Newcastle, whose tactics had worked to a tee for the majority of the half, suddenly were relieved to hear the whistle because a regroup was required in the dressing room, even if there were plenty of positives for Benitez to focus on.

Before that Dubravka had to make a stunning save, equally as good as Fernandez’s block, from three yards out to deny Tosun when he turned another Digne cross goalwards.

The break did have the desired effect. Newcastle found their feet again to stifle what Everton tried to throw at them and actually had the best of the early chances after the restart.

Both Fernandez and Fabian Schar failed to connect with an excellent cross from Atsu to the back post for the first one. Then Newcastle’s Ghanaian winger’s powerful left foot shot was held by Pickford after Fernandez’s fine crossfield pass dropped to DeAndre Yedlin.

Then it was a case of whether or not Newcastle could withstand what Everton, who threw on Theo Walcott and Bernard for the final 20 minutes, served up in the final third. More often than not they did.

Newcastle had one or two moments themselves, including an Atsu effort that was destined for the bottom corner when former Sunderland keeper Pickford was on hand to turn behind. He also had a glorious chance with seconds left when he curled weakly into England’s No 1 when it seemed easier to score.

But overall it was whether or not Everton could break Newcastle down, and they couldn’t.

Benitez, his players, the fans, Ashley and even prospective buyers will be pleased with the outcome.