HARVEY BARNES must have a thing for playing in matches with eight goals. Prior to the weekend, the forward’s most recent appearance for Newcastle had come in September’s 8-0 thrashing of Sheffield United, the game that saw him suffer the foot injury that sidelined him for more than four months.

Finally back to full fitness on Saturday, Barnes found himself involved in another eight-goal epic, this time leaving the bench to score the second-half equaliser that earned his side a point in a remarkable 4-4 draw with Luton. The Entertainers? Newcastle certainly are when Barnes is in the team.

“It’s been such a frustrating period for me,” said Barnes, who had made just two league starts following his summer move from Leicester City before he was struck down with injury. “It would be for any player when you’re injured, but for a new signing, you just want to hit the ground running. When you’re hit with injury, it’s the worst.

“It’s been my toughest period in football, really, with how long I’ve been out. But the good thing is that for the last weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve been at a level where if I was back involved, it wasn’t just to be a part of it, I was in a good place where I could come back and make an impact. Thankfully, I did that, and for the rest of the season, it’s just about helping the team out as much as I can.”

Barnes’ return to the fold was one of the key positives to emerge from Saturday’s chaotic encounter, with Callum Wilson also ending his injury hiatus in the second half.

Newcastle’s defending left an awful lot to be desired, with Dan Burn suffering an especially chastening afternoon at the hands of Luton’s flying winger Chiedozie Ogbene, and the lack of a natural holding midfielder was once again a key flaw in the Magpies’ tactical make-up, with a reborn Ross Barkley effectively having the run of midfield.


Eddie Howe’s side attacked with pace and purpose though, especially when they chased the game so effectively after falling 4-2 behind, and deserve credit for the spirit and commitment that enabled them to haul themselves back into the game. Indeed, had Jacob Murphy stabbed Bruno Guimaraes’ stoppage-time cross into the net rather than over the bar, they might even have claimed a victory that would have been one of their finest under their current boss.

“The team is built on character, and we showed that in abundance,” said Barnes, in an interview with NUFC TV. “The disappointing thing is that you don’t want to be 4-2 behind, you want to be controlling the game and leading the game, like we were early on and sustaining it.

"But of course, when we are in that position, you know the team is going to keep fighting, like we did. We were pushing for the winner at the end, and it didn’t come, but there’s definitely positives.”

Newcastle looked well set when Sean Longstaff fired them into a seventh-minute lead, and even when Gabriel Osho headed Luton level as the Magpies failed to deal with a set-piece, they reclaimed the lead when Longstaff drilled home the rebound after Thomas Kaminski could only parry Anthony Gordon’s shot.

Luton levelled again when Barkley stabbed home a rebound of his own – Martin Dubravka should probably have done better with Alfie Doughty’s initial effort – and the visitors stunned their opponents with two goals in the space of three minutes either side of the hour mark.

Carlton Morris scored the first from the spot after Burn had tugged back Ogbene, with Elijah Adebayo drilling home Luton’s fourth after Burn and Trippier had both been caught upfield.

Trippier sparked Newcastle’s revival, volleying home Bruno Guimaraes’ cross at the back post, and the comeback was complete when Lewis Miley robbed Barkley of possession, enabling Barnes to dispatch a clinical low strike from 20 yards.

“I’m just buzzing to be back out there,” said Barnes. “I’ve been working hard. It was great to get the goal, just disappointing it wasn’t enough to get three points.”