In a game where we saw special moments for our local lads, several untimely injuries and extra time in a game we could’ve done without, late goals from Joselu and Ayoze Perez finally sent us into the 4th round of the FA Cup!
A much needed win, a confidence boost for the group and rare enjoyable moments for us supporters, but it’s come at a cost with Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles forced off through injury – although it feels only right to focus on the positives when we get through to the 4th round of the cup.
To see both Longstaff and Roberts bag their first senior goals for the club was a special moment, with the U-23 pair performing well after being given a big chance to impress by Rafa Benitez.
Roberts took his goal well and showed promise in patches, but Longstaff was the U-23 addition that stood out yet again for me. He ran himself into the ground, showed real maturity and quality on the ball and got stuck in from the first moment until the last, with him lasting the entire 120 minutes superbly.
Schar was also a class act and as good as anyone out there in black and white tonight, showing his ability to play as a holding midfielder in the first half with his impressive range of passing there for all to see once again. Murphy and Joselu showed a worrying lack of quality once again, but in their defence the former chipped in with an assist for our second and the latter got our all important third to see us through in extra time.
Here’s Perez’s emphatic finish to make it 4-2 – a goal that sealed our place in the 4th round in extra time:
The focus now is on Cardiff this weekend, and although tonight’s win is a step in the right direction, it’s a victory that’s come at a cost.
Our squad already looked threadbare as it is, with Ki and Muto away at the Asian Cup and Diame, Kenedy, Dummett and Shelvey already injured, so to lose Lascelles and Clark is a blow Benitez could’ve done without – especially when there were so many others who went down with knocks during the game.
A long night full of highs and lows but one that’s ended in a well deserved win – although injuries really are mounting up now.
Time to back Rafa, Mike. We’ve done our bit on the pitch, now it’s time to do yours off it.