In a game that saw debut goals, untimely injuries and late drama, extra time goals from Joselu and Perez finally got us through to the FA Cup 4th round at the second attempt!
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my mark out of 10:
NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1): Woodman (6) – Sterry (6), Fernandez (7), Clark (6) Manquillo (5) – Schar (8*), Longstaff (8) – Murphy (5), Roberts (7), Ritchie (6) – Joselu (5).
Woodman – 6 – Didn’t have the same physical test as he did at St James’ Park in the first game. Couldn’t do much about their second, but will have been frustrated to see Armstrong slip the ball between his legs for their opener.
Sterry – 6 – Was tidy on the ball and got stuck in but struggled to deal with Danny Graham in the first half, with their big striker regularly peeling off to Sterry’s side, knowing he’d win the physical battle between the two. He was solid in the second half, however, sticking to his task well and looking pretty sharp both in the challenge and on the ball.
Fernandez – 7 – Cleared, blocked or intercepted most balls that came into the box early on, but did give away a few needless free kicks. He was our rock at the back after injuries to Clark and Lascelles threatened to derail our defence.
Clark – 6 – A committed performance, with him putting his body on the line on a few occasions as he came across to cover for Manquillo, however he was forced off at half time through injury.
Manquillo – 5 – Never got going with Ritchie down our left in the first half and didn’t always do enough to stop crosses coming in at the other end. He defended well in the home tie, but was neither here nor there in this one for me, struggling to make a real impact at either end. Looked a little lethargic at times and was wasteful in possession as he tired late on.
Schar – 8* – Played the holding midfield role pretty well. Kept the ball moving, whether it be keeping it simple or looking to spray passes out wide or in behind, and also had a few impressive efforts from range. Injuries then forced him to move back into a centre-back role, where he continued to perform well. A very impressive all round performance.
Longstaff – 8 – Really impressive once again. Scored his first senior goal with a deflected shot from range; showing he’s not shy when it comes to having a crack! He never stopped running, pressing brilliantly and showing good movement to get on the ball. Looked sharp on the ball and quick to see a pass too. Another brilliant display from the 21-year-old.
Murphy – 5 – Played a key role in Roberts’ goal, delivering a cut-back from out wide after his initial shot was blocked, but his final ball was frustrating more often than not, regularly undoing any good work he did down the wing. He looked brighter than he did in the last meeting and took his man on with ease at times, but his final ball and composure needs serious work. He seems to lack both quality and confidence – a bad mix for a winger.
Roberts – 7 – Took his goal brilliantly, angling a first time finish into the bottom corner from Murphy’s cut-back. He didn’t manage to get on the ball quite as much as he’d have liked, but he was neat and tidy and showed some nice touches and turns when he got going. A bright performance and brilliant finish on his first start for the senior side.
Ritchie – 6 – Tenacious and never stopped running, but not a great deal came off for him in all honesty aside from some tidy possession play. He did have one powerful shot fired just over the bar, put the odd decent ball into the box and some great tracking defensively, but he didn’t influence the game quite as much as you’d expect from our most experienced attacking player.
Joselu – 5 – He reacted well to tap in a rebound after Raya made a mess of Schar’s powerful shot (albeit from an offside position!), but this was one of few positive contributions of his in the game – and it was in the 105th minute of play! He really struggled to hold the ball up and never looked a threat all night, but fair play to him for reacting well for the winner! Maybe he deserves a higher mark for such an important goal, but his general play was pretty poor once again.
Lascelles – N/A – Came on for the injured Clark at half time but hobbled off soon after with a hamstring injury. He tried to play on, but this could’ve cost us given his obvious lack of mobility, with him clearly unable to continue.
Hayden – 6 – Did a solid job. Got stuck in and battled away alongside Longstaff despite being on the receiving end of several heavy knocks.
Perez – 7 – Took his goal brilliantly to make it 4-2, smashing a shot across goal into the top corner from a tight angle.
Atsu – N/A – Came on in extra time and showed bursts of skill and speed. Could’ve grabbed himself a goal but curled a decent chance well wide.