A promising performance from a weakened Newcastle United side, but a disappointing result, with Leicester knocking us out of the Carabao Cup on penalties.
With 9 senior players missing from the starting 11 after picking up knocks or being fatigued from Sunday’s heroic win at Spurs, the likes of Darlow, Fernandez, Clark, WIllems, Shelvey, Matty Longstaff and Muto started against what was a full strength Leicester side.
We competed well, moving the ball about nicely at times and keeping a talented Leicester attack quiet, although the visitors opened the scoring after a James Maddison free-kick took a wicket deflection and beat Karl Darlow all ends up.
A cruel blow, but we responded well and were always in the game – even if Muto was a little isolated up top and struggling to get attackers around him in good areas.
It was a makeshift side in areas, with us having some square pegs in round holes in attack, but Muto grabbed an equaliser in the second half, latching onto a good cut back from Willems following Fabian Schar’s stunning cross field pass to put the Dutchman in behind:
We huffed and puffed late on and kept Leicester at bay for the most part, with Darlow barely having a save to make, but a few poor penalties from Shelvey and Hayden have cost us in the end.
One thing I didn’t understand from sections of the 22,700 crowd was the boos towards Ayoze Perez. He didn’t force a move (his £30m release clause was activated by a club more ambitious than ours) and was a good servant, who not only worked hard but scored just shy of 50 goals in 200 games. Personal choice, but I didn’t get it.
On a positive note, we held our own against arguably the country’s 7th or 8th best side, we showed good spirit, defended well, Muto got a confidence boosting goal, Matty Longstaff put in a good shift on his debut and several fringe men performed well, with Willems and Fernandez putting in strong performances.
Sadly, however, it’s another early exit from the cup and we’ve suffered a few more injuries too, with Ritchie damaging his ankle and both Krafth and Willems said to have picked up ‘muscle injuries’ too.
Watford next on Saturday for Steve Bruce’s black and blue army!