Last night, Newcastle United went to the Kassam Stadium in Oxford in an FA Cup 4th Round replay. Despite blowing a two goal lead in the last five minutes of normal time, they managed to progress thanks to a screamer late in extra-time.
To be quite frank, that game and the way in which United came through it is so indicative of the season so far, in particular the last eight games. They’re on a fairly lengthy unbeaten streak… and I cannot for the life of me understand it.
Rochdale v Newcastle (FA Cup Rd 3) – 04/01/2020
Coming off the back of a Premier League game at home to Leicester wherein Newcastle suffered FOUR injuries during the game and lost 3-0, United took a trip to League One Rochdale in the FA Cup.
It started pretty well as Steve Bruce’s side dominated in the first half, going in at the break with a 1-0 lead thanks to a second goal in a matter of weeks for Miguel Almiron – although it could have been three or four.
The second half was like watching a totally different game as Rochdale came out all guns blazing and ultimately made Newcastle pay for missed chances – forcing a replay with a late goal.
Wolves v Newcastle (Premier League) – 11/01/2020
Another game, another goal for Miguel Almiron as United took an early lead thanks to another wonderful finish from the Paraguayan.
After that, Wolves scored an equaliser just seven minutes later and sent wave after wave of attack in search of a winner for the rest of the game – but to no avail. Newcastle came away with a point as well as another two or three injury problems…
Rochdale v Newcastle (FA Cup Rd 3 Replay) – 14/01/2020
Rochdale’s visit to St James’ Park was full of optimism, as the League One underdogs thought they had a really great chance of causing a cup upset in the north east.
It wasn’t to be for Rochdale though, as Newcastle ran out comfortable 4-1 winners – both Miguel Almiron and goal-shy Joelinton managed to bag.
Newcastle v Chelsea (Premier League) – 18/01/2020
Newcastle hosted Chelsea in the Premier League in a game most of us had written off as an opportunity to pick up some much needed points.
Newcastle sat very deep all game long, frustrating Chelsea more and more. They barely laid a glove on Frank Lampard’s team all game long – until Isaac Hayden headed home a beauty of a cross from Allan Saint-Maximin in the 94th minute, sealing a daylight robbery for Newcastle.
Everton v Newcastle (Premier League) – 21/01/2020
This game was the weirdest of the lot. Newcastle played poorly for 90 minutes, Everton had a few chances and made Newcastle pay for poor defending. Carlo Ancelotti’s side were 2-0 up and cruising to a win.
Then, in the 94th minute, Jordan Pickford flapped at a cross, allowing Fabian Schar to get it back into the area where Florian Lejeune acrobatically turned it home.
From kick off, United won a free-kick on halfway and launched it into the area. It came down and a goalmouth scramble ensued – resulting in Florian Lejeune somehow managed to turn it home. 2-2, Everton gobsmacked, Lejeune has a brace and the United fans in the corner went berserk.
Somehow the streak survives…
Newcastle v Oxford (FA Cup 4th Rd) – 25/01/2020
Goalless. Shocking performance from start to finish and Oxford nearly made them pay for it. Somehow Newcastle survived and earned a replay (Yup… “earned” a replay against League One opposition).
Fair play to Oxford – they were the better side at St James’ Park – although they may have been helped by a slightly weird atmosphere in and around SJP following the takeover story that had broken earlier in the day.
Newcastle v Norwich (Premier League) – 01/02/2020
Probably the worst performance of the whole lot. Norwich are rock bottom of the league but Newcastle barely touched them all game long.
The visitors missed some great chances and if weren’t for Martin Dubravka, Newcastle would most certainly have lost this game. As it is, it finished 0-0 and prompted some serious questions of Steve Bruce’s managerial nous.
Oxford v Newcastle (FA Cup 4th Rd Replay) – 04/02/2020
As mentioned at the top of the article, Newcastle went down to the Kassam last night in what was probably one of the most Newcastle cup ties there has literally ever been.
Newcastle came out strong in the first half, dominating the game and barely allowing Oxford the opportunity to have the ball. Sean Longstaff scored a fantastic goal before setting Joelinton through on goal to score a while later.
2-0 at the break, absolutely flying. The second half was strong for the most part from Bruce’s side as they kept all of Oxford’s main threats quiet. In the 84th minute, Matt Ritchie committed a frankly stupid foul on the edge of the box which Liam Kelly expertly bent into the top corner.
Predictably, Oxford went and got an equaliser right at the death as the ball fell to West Ham loanee Nathan Holland from a deep free-kick. In fairness, he took the chance brilliantly, curling a volley into the far corner.
Extra-time loomed and United didn’t even look like scoring to be quite honest. It seemed as though the game was absolutely destined for penalties, but Allan Saint-Maximin wasn’t to be denied, dancing past three defenders before lashing a venomous effort into the top corner.
It cued some wild celebrations in the away end, prompting one bloke to whip out his old chap and start waving it around… Bloody hell.
What’s next for Newcastle?
Well, they now get a little break for which they’re jetting off to Marbella for a warm weather training camp. Then, they come back to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
In March, they’ll head to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion in the 5th round of the FA Cup. This is, if you can believe it, the furthest Newcastle have managed to progress in that competition since Mike Ashley took the reigns in 2007.
As it is, they are eight games unbeaten in all competitions – and I have absolutely no idea how… but I’m all for it.