Newcastle started their FA Cup campaign away to Birmingham this afternoon.
STARTING XI: Sels, Anita, Lascelles, Hanley, Haidara (Ritchie, 69), Yedlin, Tiote (Hayden, 64), Colback, Lazaar, Murphy, Mitrovic (Gouffran, 12)
In total then 8 changes from our last match against Blackburn including a first start of the season for both Haidara and Tiote. Perhaps more surprising was the change in system that would see NUFC start with the two big men up front.
And it would take only 5 minutes for Newcastle to take the lead when from a corner, as following a corner from Lazaar Birmingham just could get the ball clear and the ball was slammed home by Daryl Murphy for his first goal for Newcastle United.
During the corner however Mitrovic would receive what looked like a very serious injury. Whenever a player end in a brace and receiving Oxygen you know it’s not good. Kick off following the goal was delayed for almost 10 minutes before Mitro was stretchered off. Only time will tell just how serious this one is.
Newcastle could have been ruffled by the sight of such an injury but would keep their composure and look good in the early stages creating a couple of half chances from sub Gouffran and another Lazaar corner.
Rafa would continue with the 4-4-2 formation even with Gouffran on the pitch and the system continued to work well with Murphy winning his fair share in the air. His good work would lead to another corner midway through the first half with Hanley heading just over from that one.
On 35 minutes Newcastle almost doubled their lead. Again Murphy involved, this time finding strike partner Gouffran, but with our number 20 having rounded the keeper he would see his finish hacked off the line for another Newcastle corner.
But with Newcastle seemingly completely under control of the game a sucker punch for the Mags as following a lapse in concentration from a Birmingham free kick a low cross into the box would see Jutkewicz totally free in the box to tap the easiest of chances home to make it 1-1. Totally against the run of play but exactly when happens when you don’t force home an advantage.
All level at half time then.
A good run from Yedlin would almost give the 4,671 travelling faithful something to cheer about in the second half after a great run, but his cross would not get over the keeper with an overload at the back post.
Another great turn out form the Mags making up a healthy proportion of the 13k fans at St Andrews.
The game was now incredibly scrappy, with both sides giving the ball away far too easily and neither team forcing themselves on the opposition.
As the game drifted towards the inevitable draw it looked like only a mistake or a moment of genius would see this one decided with the prospect of a replay at St James Park looking very much on the cards.
With Hayden and Ritchie now on the pitch there would at least be a little spark further forward from Newcastle. And it would be the Scotsman who would provide a lovely ball into the box, just evading Murphy, on 75 minutes.
With only just over 5 minutes remaining Birmingham had a wonderful chance to snatch the game. Having already scored one it was Jutkiewicz who somehow managed to completely miss the target with a free header from just 5 yards out. Just how!
And then again just a couple of minutes later the same player would miss again with a header, although much closer this time. Newcastle living dangerously.
With two minutes of injury time played no winner could be found and with a reply scheduled for 18th January it will also mean our game with Brentford will be moved.
This was one to forget for both sides, but hey, at least we’re still in the cup!