Today was what last Saturday was supposed to be. With a raft of changes on both sides, 8 for Wolves and 8 for NUFC, it was always going to be a different game. What it did is demonstrate just how strong the Newcastle squad is right now in both Championship quality and in depth. This can only be a good sign for the rest of this very very long season.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Lazaar, Hanley, Clark, Yedlin, Colback, Shelvey, Ritchie (Lascelles, 86), Gouffran (Atsu, 75), Diame (Perez, 72), Murphy
In the starting eleven were Lazaar and Murphy for their first competitive run outs in a black and white shirt. Both would have good games, although it would be this seasons star man who would be the stand out figure again in front of a good crowd of 34,735.
Whilst the visitors started well it would not take long for Newcastle to settle into their stride forcing a succession of early corners even if there would not be a great deal of goalmouth action in the first quarter of the game, indeed just one shot each in that first 23 minutes, although the visitors will be ruing missing theirs which was a one on one forcing Darlow into a great save low to his left.
Just before the half hour mark though - the breakthrough.
The quality that was missing against Wolves at the weekend would be corrected.....and how! The creator and scorer would be Ritchie. After playing a loverly one-two on the edge of the area, the Scotsman would find himself clear on the corner of the six yard box only to cooly slot past the keeper to make it 1-0.
With the home fans still celebrating they would not have seen the second goal coming, when within a minute of the restart Ritchie would this time turn provider when following a great run down the right his inch perfect cross would be met by Gouffran with a quite outstanding volley. Shelvey v QPR / Gouffran tonight - for goal of the month - it was that good. What a finish.
For clips of all the Newcastle goals goto our twitter account @SSportsToon
Whilst Wolves would threaten fleetingly Newcastle would cruise to half time with no issues, indeed the visitors wouldn’t manage another shot before the break.
What Rafa would demand after the break would be more of the same, and they almost made the perfect start. After a messy passage of play outside the Wolves box Diame would get the ball under his spell and from 12 yards out at and angle his chipped attempt would come back off the bar. The rebound would fall to Gouffran who would volley wide when it seemed easier to score - perhaps he IS human after all (ha).
Our next ‘nearly man’ would be Colback after dragging an effort wide from the edge of the box before Diame would come close again with a cracking drive from distance only to see Lonergan save.
Diame would be withdrawn from the action after 72 minutes to allow Perez a confidence boosting 20 minutes or so after a poor show last time out, likewise Atsu would get another go in place of goal hero Gouffran.
And whilst Wolves would then enjoy their best spell of the game following those changes their efforts would count for nothing with Newcastle seeing out the game in relative comfort although but for a couple of Darlow saves and a Murphy blast over the bar there could have been more goals.
A place then in the last 16 the prize for the win but with pretty much only the big teams left in the competition it’s going to be quite a challenge to get much further. With Rafa though…….