Five things we learned from Newcastle V Reading

Newcastle's Matt Ritchie scores their second goal from the penalty spot

Newcastle beat Reading 4-1 in the Championship on Wednesday evening.

Newcastle's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Isaac Hayden

Newcastle finally picked up their first win of the season in a 4-1 victory over Reading.

It was an improved performance from Rafael Benitez's side, who took the lead in the 20th minute through Isaac Hayden.

The Magpies were pegged back on the stroke of half time when Gareth McCleary converted a penalty, but went back in front from 12 yards themselves, as Matt Ritchie scored his first Newcastle goal.

A brace from Dwight Gayle put gloss on the victory as Newcastle got their first three points. Here are five things we learned from their victory over Reading.

Rafa is not scared to drop anyone

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

When Newcastle fans saw the starting eleven for the game against Reading, the thing that stood out the most was the omission of captain Jamaal Lascelles.

The 22-year-old has had a difficult start to his tenure as Newcastle captain, and Benitez was not scared to drop his captain and replace him with new signing Ciaran Clark.

The Spaniard also left out Daryl Janmaat, who has been pretty much a constant figure since he arrived on Tyneside. Tonight's team shows that no ones position is safe whilst Benitez is in charge.

Newcastle still don't know their best centre back partnership

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles during training

Third game of the season and a third pairing at the centre of defence. Tonight saw Clark come into the side, but he did little to nail down a place.

The Irish defender's use of the ball was poor, and his challenge which gave away the penalty was criminal. The only defender that has shone so far is Chancel Mbemba, who himself had a sticky time against Huddersfield. 

Newcastle take on Bristol City in the fourth game, and we could very easily see a fourth pairing at the back.

Hayden isn't just a holding midfielder

Reading's George Evans in action with Newcastle's Isaac Hayden

On his debut, Hayden stood out because of his ability to win back and recycle possession. Tonight he was a total box-to-box midfielder and looked very comfortable going forward.

The Arsenal graduate ended the evening with a goal and an assist, and could have gone home with a brace had it not been for Reading goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

Hayden still did his defensive duties, and was much more sound in possession compared to his disappointing showing against Huddersfield on Saturday.

Dwight Gayle is only going to get better

Newcastle's Dwight Gayle scores their fourth goal

When he arrived from Crystal Palace, many thought it would prove to be quite an astute signing by Newcastle.

Despite limited chances and poor service, Dwight Gayle already has three goals as Newcastle's number nine.

His all-round performance was impressive against Reading, scoring a sensational free kick before tucking home Hayden's cross late on. Gayle is beginning to find his confidence, and will only get better when he is able to line up with suspended Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Matt Ritchie has the edge and guile Newcastle

Newcastle's Matt Ritchie scores their second goal from the penalty spot

It was a man of the match performance from Matt Ritchie, who is looking like Newcastle's best signing in the early stages of the season.

Ritchie seemed to be everywhere against Reading, and was a constant nuisance to Jaap Stam's defenders with his pace and trickery. His energy lifted Newcastle at times, and he rightfully capped off his performance with a neat penalty to put Newcastle back in front early in the second half.

The Magpies need players with edge just as much as they need a creative spark. Luckily for Benitez, Ritchie has both.

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