Newcastle United 2-0 Cheltenham
Newcastle started their EFL Cup campaign with a scrappy 2-0 win against League 2 Cheltenham at St James Park tonight.
Rafa would make several changes from the team who started against Bristol City, perhaps most notably the return from suspension of Mitrovic and a full debut for Gamez at left back.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Sterry, Lascelles, Hanley, Gamez, Aarons (Gouffran, 24), Shelvey, Colback, Perez, Diame, Mitrovic (Gayle, 38 [Anita, 58])
Despite the number of changes Newcastle entered the game with a strong first eleven with Lascelles, Shelvey, Colback, Diame and Perez also all starting, whist there was a rare start for 20 year old Sterry at right back and Darlow in goal.
Newcastle would struggle to assert their authority in the first half with the best chances falling to the away side. Indeed the early stages would see Darlow and Lascelles being the most dominant figures as NUFC tried to establish a hold on the game. In fact the best chance of those early stages would fall to Danny White only for the Cheltenham number 9 to completely fluff his lines.
An off the ball injury for Aarons would then see our number 16 withdrawn from proceedings with what looked like a bad injury and replaced by Gouffran.
With Newcastle struggling to get a grip of the game there would be more bad news for the Toon Army as Mitrovic would also have to come off with what seemed to be concussion after 38 minutes. If that is confirmed as concussion then he would also be ruled out of the game against Brighton on Saturday. Not a great return for the lad. He certainly seemed to be indicating that he was having issues seeing out of his left eye after initially being allowed to reenter play by the doctor following a clash with White.
Next it would be Perez in the wars following a clash of heads, but after having his head wrapped up in like some kind of Egyptian Mummy he would run back onto the field after his injury to curl a fantastic strike into the far corner from the left hand edge of the penalty area on 45+2 minutes.
An undeserved but a welcome breakthrough just before half time. Maybe better to come in the second half.
And with only 2 minutes gone in the second half better it would be. A crazy back pass by Cheltenham centre half Suliman was latched onto by sub Dwight Gayle who cooly squared to Perez to side foot in for his and Newcastle United second. Game over!?
The game would continue to be a scrappy affair, and just when you’d thought things couldn’t get worse on the injury front Rafa was then forced to withdraw Gayle after yet another head injury. Whether this would be more precautionary than a required substitution is another that will remain to be seen. But hardly the best preparation for a big game against Brighton at the weekend.
A great chance would then fall to Anita who would head wide, when really Gouffran should have gambled on the ball not hitting the target for what would have been a tap in.
Then the chance for Perez to seal a rare cup hattrick when put clean through for a one on one following a great ball by Shelvey, only to put his chance over the bar. More evidence perhaps that whilst the lads talent is unquestionable he perhaps lack that killer inserting that would stop him ever being prolific at any level.
Two nil it would finish than. Not convincing by any stretch of the imagination but safely through at least.
With the draw for the next round tomorrow night Newcastle will be hoping for another home tie at least. They will have to perform better than they did tonight however if they are going to proceed much further in this competition.
Let’s see what the remainder of the transfer window brings too eh?!