Game number three for the first team tonight saw Newcastle United run out comfortable winners against League One side Bradford City.
Rafa Benitez put thoughts of new additions to his squad aside for this evening and picked a strong starting line up as preparation for the new season, now just weeks away, continues.
STARTING XI: Elliot (Woodman, 61), Yedlin (Manquillo, 45), Lejeune (Mbemba, 61), Clark (Saivet, 77), Dummett (Gamez, 61), Atsu (Aarons, 61), Shelvey (de Jong, 61), Hayden (Colback, 77), Ritchie (Murphy, 45), Perez (Diame, 45), Gayle (Mitrovic, 61)
And it didn’t take long for the visitors to assert their authority on the game with Shelvey instrumental in the early exchanges. First a fine through ball to Atsu saw the Ghanaian stray off-side when well placed to break clear, before Shelvey himself would unleash as the space opened up in front of him only to see his effort go straight at the Bradford keeper.
Ritchie too would be lively in the early minutes of the game whilst Gayle and Perez would also make the most of some pretty poor defending as the first half progressed.
But whilst Newcastle would enjoy both the majority of play in the first half and the clear cut chances both teams would go into the break level at half time.
Three changes at half time would make a big difference to Newcastle United as an potent force however with Murphy coming on to great effect for Matt Ritchie.
For some taking Ritchie off and leaving Atsu on the pitch would be a surprise, although the decision would prove justified as the little man would continue to be a thorn in Bradford’s side and within 5 minutes of the restart prove the creator of the breakthrough goal. With good persistence down the left his ball would find Gayle to squeeze his effort into the Bradford goal at the near post.
That strike would open the floodgates as within 60 seconds of the restart NUFC would find themselves two goals to the good, this time from a first goal in black and white from Murphy. Whilst the build up play was good, his side step and composure when faced with the keeper to beat will be a beautiful and calming sight for those who turned up in black and white to see this one.
15 minutes later and the next round of changes would stimulate more chances for the Mags.
And after Gamez had a good shout for a penalty turned away it would be the Mitrovic turn to get in the act, This time a cracking turn of pace from Aarons to get away from his man and a pin point cross from the left would leave the Serb with the most simple of finishes.
And much like the second goal, Bradford would seem to turn off immediately after scoring with Newcastle’s 4th and final goal of the game coming just minutes after their 3rd. This time Bradford City could only have themselves to blame as after failing to effectively deal with a ball into the box Murphy would drive the ball into the roof of the net for his second of the night.
All in all then a good workout for the lads, whilst Rafa will certainly have learnt more about his squad for the season ahead.
And with more signing now looking inevitable it was clear to see that every one of the players on show tonight were fighting for their careers and for a first team birth.