Down and Out. Whilst Rafa and his men still, of course, have the chance to fix the first half of this unpleasant pairing the second will remain true for yet another season.
This season’s ignominious dumping form the FA Cup could not have been much more humiliating however, at the hands of first division Oxford.
With a crazy fixture list in February, one that will most likely make or break our promotion push, Rafa decided to ring the changes once more. A calculated gamble that he more than likely thought would allow his young and unproven charges to prove they could at least represent the club against against a team at this level.
Oxford went into the game having not reached the 5th round of the FA Cup for 23 years, making even Newcastle’s record in the competition look decent. Not anymore.
STARTING XI: Sels, Good, Hanley, Hairdara (Ritchie, 77), Gamez, Barlaser, Hayden, Lazaar, Perez, Ben El-Mhanni (Gouffran, 68), Mitrovic
The game itself would be a pretty even affair in terms of everything but goals. The first half would give some clues as to what was ahead, with any little amount of decent play from the visitors coming from Lazaar. Chances would be at a premium however although Mitrovic would see one good chance saved by Eastwood whilst an earlier potential sight of goal would disappear after our forward would stand on the ball when virtually clean through.
Newcastle looked weak and disjointed all over the park and just a minute after half time Oxford would strike, and it wouldn’t make pretty viewing. Newcastle seemed to have left their game heads in the dressing room. And after failing to spot or deal with a short corner routine the Mags defence would miss three opportunities to clear the ball. Their failure giving Hemmings the easiest of tasks to tap in from 2 yards,
The goal would at least shake Newcastle into action. A barnstorming run from Mitrovic seeing our nr 45 felled in the box. But the big man himself would then fail to convert form the spot as although his penalty was well hit and on target, Eastwood would be equal to it in the Oxford goal.
From there on in Newcastle would try and force the equaliser pouring more and more men forward. But when Nelson scored the hosts second goal straight from another corner on 79 minutes it would be game over.
There would however still be time for Lopez to grab another goal for Oxford on what would be a day to remember for them and one to forget for Newcastle.
After the game Rafa said he was sorry to the fans who’d travelled but thought his side had created enough chances to go through.
For us this provides all the evidence needed to show just how much of a building job would be required were we to go up. Scratch the surface and it’s pretty clear, there isn’t much there.