NEWCASTLE UNITED started life under their new head coach, Eddie Howe, in entertaining fashion – but their failure to secure a first win of the season means they find themselves at the foot of the Premier League table.

With Howe watching on from afar after testing positive for Covid yesterday, Newcastle played out a 3-3 draw with Brentford.

Jamaal Lascelles’ tenth-minute opener gave the Magpies an early lead at a sold-out St James’ Park, but after Ivan Toney and Rico Henry scored for Brentford, Joelinton’s clinical finish six minutes before the interval meant Newcastle were still only level at half-time.

They looked to be heading for defeat when Lascelles deflected Frank Onyeka’s shot into his own net shortly after the hour mark, but Saint-Maximin converted Ryan Fraser’s cross with 15 minutes left to ensure Howe’s reign would start with a point.

Newcastle’s new boss would have been pleased with his side’s attacking intent, but justifiably alarmed at the defensive laxity that enabled Brentford to score three goals.

He might not have been at St James’ Park because if his positive Covid test, but Howe had pledged before kick-off that his Newcastle side would look to entertain.

They certainly did that during a chaotic first half, although their defensive deficiencies were also worryingly apparent as the two sides shared four goals in the space of 29 minutes.

Newcastle scored the first of them, with their skipper, Lascelles, claiming the opening goal of the Howe era.

Lascelles outjumped his marker as he met Matt Ritchie’s corner from the right, and his header found the back of the net via the inside of the left-hand post.

St James’ Park erupted, but Newcastle’s lead lasted less a minute. Indeed, from the moment they kicked off, Brentford had just eight touches before the ball was in the Magpies’ net.

Sergi Canos’ through ball released Toney into the right of the area, and while Karl Darlow should have saved the former Newcastle striker’s shot, the goalkeeper somehow allowed the ball to squirm underneath him.

Suddenly, the Magpies’ defence was being run ragged, but while Toney had the ball in the net for a second time, deflecting home the rebound after Bryan Mbuemo’s shot had rebounded off the post, an offside flag came to Newcastle’s rescue.

Seven minutes later, and Ciaran Clark was the Magpies’ saviour, blocking Toney’s goal-bound effort on the line after Darlow had palmed Mbuemo’s cross into the forward’s path.

Five minutes after that, however, and Brentford were not to be denied. Canos swung over an excellent deep cross from the right, and with Jacob Murphy out of position, Henry was able to burst in at the back post to head home.

Toney went close again moments later, firing in a long-range effort that Darlow saved, but just as Newcastle were in danger of being engulfed, they struck back with a second goal of their own to make it 2-2 at the interval.

Saint-Maximin’s shot deflected to Joelinton in the area, and after shuffling the ball onto his left foot, Newcastle’s Brazilian number nine swept a low finish into the bottom left-hand corner.

The Magpies had a couple of chances at the start of the second half, but Ciaran Clark’s header from a corner was saved by Alvaro Fernandez and Saint-Maximin steered a shot wide from the corner of the area after Joe Willock had laid the ball into his path.

It was a crucial moment, as within a minute, Brentford were claiming a third goal at the opposite end.

Henry broke through a couple of tackles close to the edge of the area, and the ball broke kindly for Bees substitute Onyeka. His shot looked to be heading wide, but Lascelles stuck out a leg and deflected the ball past a helpless Darlow and into his own net.

Newcastle responded by bringing on Fraser and Sean Longstaff, and the former played a prominent role in the goal that made it 3-3 in the 75th minute.

Fraser’s deep cross from the right was perfectly-weighted for the onrushing Saint-Maximin, and without having to break stride, the Frenchman was able to guide home a first-time volley at the back post.

Both sides spent the closing stages pushing for a winner, and Newcastle should have claimed one with eight minutes left.

Saint-Maximin embarked on a sensational run from inside his own half, and slipped Joelinton into the right of the box. The Brazilian looked certain to score as he stepped inside the final Brentford defender, but he lost his footing at a crucial moment and was subsequently unable to get a shot away.