Updated: Jan 18
Newcastle United strolled into the 4th round of the FA Cup after a professional and comfortable display against Rochdale in tonights FA Cup replay.
An own-goal and then strikes from Matty Longstaff and Miggy Almiron had Newcastle 3-0 by half time. The rarest of things in the second half, a Joelinton goal, put the icing on the cake with 10 minutes left in the game before Williams gave the 2,500 travelling fans something to cheer about with a consolation goal just before the end.
After giving up a 1-0 lead in the original tie just over a week ago, there would be no such mistake this time. Whilst the service form the flanks had been less than decent in that game the return of Ritchie in particular made a real difference, provide the centre that lead to the O’Connell own goal and setting up Matty for his.
The fourth goal ushered in the biggest cheer of the night. Substitute and debutant Tom Allan injecting pace on the right wing set free by a lovely pass from Carroll. Joelinton, escaping his marker, left free then so redirect the ball past the Rochdale keeper for his first goal at St James Park, in front of the Gallowgate end. His celebration... a run straight to Bruce for a big hug.
Without getting ahead of themselves, all the talk before the match was around the possibility of United getting to the 5th round for the first time under the stewardship of Mike Ashley (13 years of hurt) could they get past Rochdale and with a home tie against Oxford the prize in the 4th round.
And the 4th round it will be, with the tie to be played on Saturday 25th January.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Krafth, Lejeune, Lascelles (Allan, 67), Ritchie (Shelvey, 69), Hayden, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Atsu, Almiron (Carroll, 62), Joelinton
There was a rare starting birth for Darlow between the sticks with Dubravka getting a well earned rest. Notably Ritchie and Lascelles also returned to the starting line up in a 4-3-3 formation.
Some good early moments for the visitors who forced a corner in the first 5 minutes whilst a speculative effort was shepherded wide by Darlow.
United were having most of the ball however and there were signs of what was to come when the in form Almiron fired over.
And it was Almiron who would cause the visitors all sorts of problems again moments later when he managed to unleash another effort that was deflected onto the post and behind for a corner.
On 17 minutes the breakthrough. Some great work on the flank from Ritchie allowed him to centre a delicious cross that would have been a tap in for the goal shy Joelinton, but instead Eoghan O’Connell would stick out a foot and poke into his own net. 17 mins, it had been coming.
And just a matter of moments later it was 2-0. Ritchie again the provider on this time the ball did find it’s way through to a black and white shirt in the form of Matty Longstaff to take a couple of touches before firing home.
The in form Almiron was not to be denied however. After 26 minutes the visitors, a complete mess at the back, passed the ball straight to the United winger who took his time before firing past Sanchez in the Rochdale goal. Masters of their own downfall after trying to play out from the back under good pressure from the Magpies.
By this point it was just looking like a case of ‘how many’ for the Magpies. An effort from Joelinton saved before Krafth put his chance wide from 4 yards.
Joelinton would get another chance on 38 minutes after creating some space for himself to get a shot off, only to see it climb well over the bar.
There would be just enough time for Lejeune to see his drive from a long way out narrowly go over before the half time whilst sent the sides in at 3-0.
Into the second half and at least Rochdale came out with a bit more purpose. But despite a flurry of corners there was not much to do for Darlow in the Newcastle goal for the most part.
The big moment was saved for the 82 minutes. With Tom Allan making it 4 players from the youth academy on the pitch, his run after being released by Carroll allowed him to put a fantastic cross into the 'corridor of uncertainty' and to be met by Joelinton who'd lost his marker to side foot home. A finish that the cross deserved.
The celebration seemed more one of relief than elation as he evaded his fellow players and ran straight to boss Bruce to give him a big hug. A thank you perhaps for sticking with him.
There was time for Williams to get a consolation back for Rochdale with a competent finish from fully 20 yards out, but the job was done.
Onward to the next round then, for once.