After a poor first half Newcastle United raised their game to beat League 1 Scunthorpe at Gladford Park to book their place in the Carling Cup third round draw last night.
The game was one which was pretty open with both teams playing well in stages. Credit to Scunthorpe for playing so well and taking us to the wire, but our class and fitness shone through in the end.
The game had a real ‘old fashioned cup tie’ atmosphere about it. In fact it was more like an FA Cup tie than a League Cup tie if I’m honest. Scunthorpe started very well and put pressure on the ball at every opportunity trying to sniff out a mistake. They looked extremely organised, and we really didn’t. Our formation lacked structure and it seemed as if Peter Lovenkrands, Demba Ba and Leon Best were just floating about and didn’t really know their role.
In the first half we started very slowly and only Yohan Cabaye looked like he could pass the ball to feet. We played far too much long ball towards Demba Ba and Leon Best who weren’t controlling anything or winning much at all. That was the main problem in the game for me personally – the forwards. They did very little and Ba looked very poor, but I suppose he should be given time and not nailed to the stake yet.
Scunthorpe opened the scoring on 15 minutes with a knocked down cross – for which Demba Ba played two of their players on side – allowed Chris Dagnall to slip the ball by Tim Krul who had literally no chance. You’d expect that to spark a revival amongst our relatively full strength team, but it was more of the same long ball, and when we did try to pass the ball the passes were often wayward, Like Pardew said in interview, we were very cheap with giving the ball away.
Newcastle only really had one chance in the first half, a cross from Sylvain Marveaux who looked very tidy on the wing floated into the box and was met by Leon Best who headed the ball down well, but Josh Lillis made a very good save.
Just before half time our squad was further depleted in a place we really cannot do with anymore injuries. Mike Williamson, who was having a very poor game, went down after a tackle with a Scunthorpe midfielder. Williamson had to be carried off the pitch by the trainer and watched the second half with a protective leg cast on. He’s going for a scan in the morning to assess the full extent of his injury.
The second half was when we really started to come out of our shell, when we took off Scunthorpe’s 12th defender in Demba Ba who was replaced with Sammy Ameobi. The younger Ameobi is already something of a fan favourite, and his performance today did nothing to harm that bond. That sub coupled with the introduction of Haris Vuckic and Steven Taylor strengthened the team, and breathed new life into what looked to be a deflated side.
We really started to turn the screw as the second half progressed and Leon Best had a goal wrongly disallowed by the linesman, who had a poor game in my opinion. Best was clearly level, which was shown by the cut of the grass. I thought it wasn’t going to be our day.
Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best went about squandering chance after chance, when we were very much on top with the Scunthorpe side tiring fast. Yohan Cabaye started to dictate the game even more than he was earlier, and Sylvain Marveaux who impressed on the wing understandably tired, and sat deeper in midfield spraying the ball around. He’s got cracking vision.
Tim Krul made two outstanding saves in the second half – one of them I would go as far as calling World Class. If it was done by Joe Hart the boys on Match of the Day would be drooling over it, and calling for World player of the year. Krul was going to his left when the header completely changed direction after a deflection off the shoulder of Coloccini and as Krul was going down he clawed it away with a big strong hand. That was at 1-0 and surely if it had gone in there would have been no way back for Newcastle.
Then stepped up Derby hero and Newcastle United top goalscorer, Ryan Taylor, with 10 minutes left on the clock. Peter Lovenkrands won a free kick on the edge of the box, and Taylor ushered other free kick taking candidates out of the way before bending a beautiful free kick over the wall and into the top corner of Josh Lillis’ net. That sparked chants of “Ryan Taylor, over the wall” from the Newcastle fans who were sucking in the winner.
Minutes after his goal Ryan Taylor was involved again when Sammy Ameobi slid a pass inside the full back and Taylor ran through and got in front of the defender who dragged him down. No penalty was given to the dismay of Taylor and Alan Pardew, who was the angriest I’ve ever seen him as Newcastle manager.
No goals came, and extra time it was. We started the first half of extra time the better and even though both teams were tiring we kept the ball a lot better than the League 1 side. We continued to miss chances though as Scunthorpe searched for a lucky winner, which nearly came in the form of a long range volley which was cleared of the line by Steven Taylor.
The second half of extra time dragged one and although we were playing nice football it seemed that the game was going to go to penalties and all but guarantee a win for Scunthorpe. Yohan Cabaye sneaked through defence and smashed the ball across the face of goal and nobody gambled. It would have been a two yard tap in, and the game would have been all over but once again our strikers failed to read Cabaye’s brilliance.
With 8 minutes to go the Newcastle travelling faithful were sent into raptures when 19 year old Sammy Ameobi slipped by three Scunthorpe defenders and drove the ball with his weaker right foot from 20 yards into the bottom corner of Josh Lillis’ goal. The whole team surrounded Sammy who had a huge grin on his face, and piled on top of each other. No team spirit? Aye, right.
We managed to hold on and keep the ball for the majority of the remaining 10 minutes, and booked our place in the Carling Cup 3rd round draw which will be drawn on Saturday. I’m sure you’ll be able to find our opponent’s right here on NUFC Blog not long after the draw.
Even though we didn’t look brilliant it showed that we can play poorly and still win. The impact our subs had was very good, and something I look forward to seeing throughout this season. Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vuckic offered a lot more than Demba Ba and Dan Gosling, who both looked short of match fitness and both had disappointing games.
The most important thing is that we’re through and once again leaving the Mackems with the crown of the embarrassment of the North East. So, we’re one step closer to the final which Alan Pardew believes in possible, could this year by our year? I doubt it, I’d put good money on a top 4 team in the next round.
Tim Krul – 9 – Outstanding and my man of the match, made countless saves and kicked well. He’s really shaping up to be the player he has the talent to be.
Danny Simpson – 7 – Simpson once again looked very good, he seemed to be in the right place all the time, and also went forward well. He’s really improving.
Fabricio Coloccini – 8 – Once again Coloccini was his usual, steady selfin defence. He also broke out of defence with style given the chance.
Mike Williamson – 6 – Poor before his substitution. Nothing on Steven Taylor. Good in the air, but is very clumsy and tackles rashly.
Ryan Taylor – 8 – Not bad in defence. Starting to look more comfortable. Also he’s showing his set piece ability, which he’s hidden for so long. “Ryan Taylor over the wall”
Dan Gosling – 6 – Not very impressive. Looked to be knackered early on and made many poor passes. On the bright side, he does look dangerous going forward and links up well with the strikers.
Yohan Cabaye – 8 – We’ll really start to depend on Cabaye. He sprays the ball well, rarely loses it, he’s a tireless runner and doesn’t stop tackling. Good signing.
Sylvain Marveaux – 7 – Good first appearance from the winger. Looks quick and strong and has good ball control. Tired early, but that was expected after such a long time out. Decent range of passing too.
Peter Lovenkrands – 6 – Started poor but improved, like the team really. Not a winger at all, but looked threatening through the middle. He’s found his level of opposition though.
Demba Ba – 5 – Looked like he’d just been dropped in the team. No awareness, no link up, poor touch, lacked pace. Not writing him off, but he’s not shown much yet. Still, he’ll get my full support.
Leon Best – 7 – Improved greatly in the second half. Put himself about and missed a few chances, was always in the mix though and should have had a goal. The most dangerous of the three.
Steven Taylor – 8 – Much better than Williamson. The team looked calmer when he was at the back and moved forward as a team better. Quality in the air once again. Pardew seems to have him on the right track.
Sammy Ameobi – 8 – Brilliant cameo appearance. He always looks dangerous on the ball, the defender doesn’t know what he’s doing, but neither does he. Linked well with Haris Vuckic, and a cracking strike for the winner. he has a big future ahead of him.
Haris Vuckic – 7 – Another good game for Vuckic. Looks like he could be in the first team frame sooner than we think. Big, strong and he showed his brilliant technical ability.
The game was a cracker for the neutral, with Scunthorpe having 17 attempts and Newcastle having 26 attempts, from the second half onwards the game ebbed and flowed with us being the most likely team to score. It was a good cup tie, nervy at times, and it will only help the team confidence wise. They may be a little tired from playing 120 minutes but they have until Sunday to recover for the Fulham game.
So that is 2 wins and 1 draw in our first 3 games. A brilliant start to the season, something I’m sure all of us would have taken when we saw the fixtures. We seem to be able to put off the pitch matters behind us on the pitch. Now all we need is 2 or 3 signings before the end of the window, and we’ll all get along just fine…
In the next round I’ll take a home tie against Aldershot, please. Who do you fancy?
Bring on Fulham!