Portsmouth fan Matt Ritchie 'hurt' by missed Southampton penalty

Matt Ritchie congratulates Allan Saint-Maximin.Matt Ritchie congratulates Allan Saint-Maximin.
Matt Ritchie congratulates Allan Saint-Maximin. | Getty Images
“Maxi’s dug me out of a little hole there,” admitted Matt Ritchie as he stood next to the team bus at the St Mary’s Stadium.

Ritchie, a boyhood Portsmouth fan and former player at Fratton Park, had had a penalty saved for Newcastle United against Southampton.

Fortunately, Ritchie was able to smile about it after the game, which was decided by a late goal from Allan Saint-Maximin.

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However, the Gosport-born player, expecting messages from Portsmouth and Southampton-supporting friends, was tempted to switch his mobile phone to aeroplane mode on Saturday night.

“My phone will be on aeroplane mode tonight, that’s for sure, because my friends from Portsmouth will be battering me and my friends from Southampton will be battering me,” said Ritchie.

“I smile now, but I smile because we got three points. Deep down, it hurts that I missed the penalty. As I say, I’ve got thick skin. I’ll continue.”

Newcastle’s 1-0 win over 10-man Southampton – the home side had Moussa Djenepo dismissed for a foul on Isaac Hayden following a VAR review which saw referee Graham Scott check a pitchside monitor – took the club up to 35 points in the Premier League ahead of Saturday’s home game against Sheffield United.

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“I’m delighted,” said Ritchie, whose new contract at St James’s Park was confirmed ahead of the game. “A massive, massive result for the lads. Hopefully, we can now build on it.

“I thought the performance was good. We created chances in the first half, although we didn’t have loads of the ball. When we had the ball, we created chances, real positive.

“We came in at half time, and I know they’d gone down to 10 men, but sometimes it’s difficult. I thought we moved the ball really well at times. Obviously, we then got the goal. It’s always going to be tight in these games, six-pointers. As I say, I’m really pleased, and delighted for the lads.”

Newcastle missed a number of chances – and were also denied several times by goalkeeper Alex McCarthy – at the St Mary’s Stadium before Saint-Maximin’s late intervention.

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“We were probing and probing and probing,” said Ritchie. “It was one of those where you miss a penalty, and a couple of chances, and think ‘is it going to happen for us?’. Absolutely delighted.

“We kept plugging away. That’s what you’ve got to do. As I say, against 10 men, they sit in, banked up, and that makes it difficult. We know that. We’ve been on the other side of it. It’s tough to play against. Luckily enough, Maxi got the goal.”

McCarthy dived low to his left to stop RItchie’s first-half penalty, which was awarded for a Sofiane Boufal handball after another VAR review.

“I feel confident (taking penalties),” said Ritchie, who is not on social media and, as such, was spared the online reaction to his penalty. “I practice so much. I haven’t seen the penalty back, but I felt I hit the penalty well.

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“I put it in the corner. I quite often go the other side. When I hit the penalty, I felt it was in the corner. I felt I connected well. The only thing is that it was a good height for the goalie, and maybe if I lifted it a little bit higher, it could be a different story, a different outcome.

“For sure, I always feel confident from the spot. I’ve converted most. I missed against Everton, but I’m gutted really. It was a great opportunity to put the lads in a great position going into the break.

“It wasn’t to be. I’ve got thick skin. I’ll continue and stay positive and, as I always do, give my best for the team.”

United confirmed that Ritchie and midfielder Jonjo Shelvey had signed new contracts keeping them at St James’s Park until 2023 ahead of the game.

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“Delighted, fantastic, as I said in the week, to be part of hopefully a good journey for the football club,” said Ritchie, signed from Bournemouth in 2016.

“I feel like it’s been a positive 4 years since I’ve been here. Hopefully, I can continue that, and make the next three years positive as well.”

Ritchie – who moved around clubs a lot on loan when he was a young player at Portsmouth – feels settled in the North East.

"It's obviously something that I wanted," said the 30-year-old. "Since I came to the club, it's been a successful period, and one that I want to continue being involved in. Hopefully, I can be part of the future.

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"When you sign at a club, you want to go there and make an impact, and if you can be part of that club moving forward for a long time, it's something that’s nice. I moved around in my younger years on loan, but to come somewhere and get settled and be part of the progress of the football club is great."

Steve Bruce had revealed his keenness to secure Ritchie and Shelvey on longer deals after taking succeeding Rafa Benitez last summer.

“We’re delighted,” said United’s head coach. “They’ve been very good over the last few years for Newcastle. Thankfully, there’s been a really good conclusion.

“They’re a big make-up of the team, and we’re delighted they’ve committed their future.

“The nucleus of the team got out of the Championship – and it’s still here today. These two have been instrumental in the core group. Let’s hope now we can get two or three others done as well.”