The game was decided by a disputed second-half penalty from Billy Sharp.
Supporters had questioned Bruce’s starting XI before the game. Newcastle again had a five-man defence, and Bruce fielded Ryan Fraser – who was sent off before the break for two bookable offences – and Sean Longstaff as two “false No.10s” behind Callum Wilson.
Asked about criticism of his selection, head coach Bruce said: “Too defensive in the approach? We played the same sort of way (in previous games), and changed the personnel at the top end of the pitch to try and give us something a little bit different, because we haven’t scored enough but created enough.
“That was behind the thinking of playing Ryan and Sean as two false No.10s, if you like instead of (Miguel) Almiron and big Joe (Joelinton), and, of course, the games that we’ve had. I tried to pick the team with a certain freshness.
“I’d seen something different that might work. In hindsight, what I needed was to get into half-time to change things around but unfortunately the red card put paid to thank unfortunately.”
Newcastle take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on January 18.