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Season 2018-19
Blackburn Rovers (h) FA Cup Third Round


Saturday 5th January 2019, 5.30pm
(late kick-off overseas TV coverage)

 St. James' Park

Conditions: Woeful

Admission: £10 adults, £5 concessions
(£20 and £10 on match day)

Newcastle United

Blackburn Rovers

1 - 1




Half time: Magpies 0 Rovers 0

56 mins
Rovers free-kick inside the United half was switched by Charlie Mulgrew to Elliott Bennett and his deep cross from the right was nodded past Freddie Woodman from ten yards out by Bradley Dack, who got ahead of Jamie Sterry at the Leazes End. 0-1

84 mins A long forward ball from Jonjo Shelvey inside his own half found Joselu on the edge of the Rovers box and he nodded it back to Perez. After an initial mis-control, the substitute dribbled into the box before some nifty footwork induced a trip by Corry Evans. 

After an unnecessary VAR delay, Matt Ritchie stepped up and coolly slotted the spot-kick
to his right, sending the Rovers 'keeper the wrong way. 1-1

Full time: Magpies 1 Rovers 1

We Said


Rafa Benitez:

"A replay is bad news. I am disappointed because we have to play another game. 

"At home we have to try to finish and we didn't play at the level we expected. I was pleased with the reaction. It is now another situation we have to manage, use more players, more risk. 

"We tried and they pushed hard. You could see them running for every single ball. Overall the reaction was good in the final minutes and I will take that as a positive.

"We didnít want another game - we wanted to win - but, after losing, we needed to react, and the reaction of the team in the final minutes was quite good. Itís a pity we have to play another game but itís better than to lose.

"When you have players in these kind of games, where they have not been playing, then at least they have to try and I think they tried. Confidence is something you have to keep going and searching for. That's the only way.

"I can give them confidence, training every day and talking with them. At the end of the day it depends how games go. We have to keep going. On a day like this I had to make substitutions to try to save the game. They have to perform and that's it.

"We have to keep working with him
(Murphy), you can see the prices in the market so I think we are still short in terms of how much we have spent so we have to keep going and working with him. 

"All of them on the pitch who had not been playing
(had an opportunity), they have to decide what commitment they show and I think they did that.

"Murphy still has the potential and I hope (he will fulfil it). You have to play well to play more games, that is the circle that players find themselves in.

"I think the fans know that if we go through, it has to be with the squad. We have two or three players away, and some with (injury) problems, so we had to pick a team that we think could compete against a Championship team.

"The positives are the reaction of the team, some players playing that were not playing, especially
(Florian) Lejeune, who has been out for four and a half months with the operations. Itís really good news because it means that we have another body.

"More minutes, more players, more risk.

"We were trying, but they were pushing hard. You could see how they were running for every single ball and then sometimes itís more difficult for you to play with the confidence that you have to play with.

"It was important for the young players to have an opportunity to play here, with a lot of fans - thatís always a good experience.

On the possible targeting of goalkeeper Freddie Woodman at set pieces - something which had Benitez remonstrating with the fourth official vociferously: 

"There's a FIFA rule about the six-yard box and the keepers, but sometimes they forget about this rule. It's not Wimbledon of the past - I was in Spain and we were watching these kinds of games - it's not Bolton, who were doing the same.

"You have to protect the keeper, that's it. The referee knows that. In the second half, the approach was different. I think sometimes we forget the rules when the ball goes into the six-yard box. We had to protect him in the second half."


They Said


Tony Mowbray whined: 

ďItís a disappointed dressing room at the end, pretty quiet.

ďWe couldnít really see them scoring, but they started to bring on their big guns, Shelvey started hitting forward balls and Perez and Atsu started running in behind.

ďThat put us more on the back foot.

ďThat was about what we get from our team every week. Weíve just come out of a run of playing the top four teams in the Championship at a high intensity level and it was just the same here. They keep producing.

ďItís just disappointing for them that we didnít come away from the game with the result we felt we deserved.

Asked if nine changes to the NUFC line-up had given him encouragement:

ďNot really.

"My job is to drive the team hard, I need to make sure they doní take their foot off the gas against a team in the Premier League in front of nearly 40,000.

"You realise they need to stay in the Premier League so he left some of his players on the bench, so maybe the team got a lift.

"But for me it was about our performance levels, our desire to get a result and we nearly did.

"I thought we were going to score from a set play. I said the other day that it wasnít a fluke to see
(Charlie) Mulgrew score from a corner.

"First half, Bradley
(Dack) could have scored back stick, it whizzed past him unmarked at the back stick.

"Mulgrew practices set plays every day, generally shooting at goal. If you can bend it in to the top and corner like he can, then why not shoot from a corner?

"If we can get people across the front of the goalkeeper, they don't need to make contact, or foul the goalkeeper, but run across the front and if you can get a touch then it will fly in. And if you miss it, then it might fly straight in.

"It's no surprise to us with Charlie, he scored 14 last season and has already scored eight this season, and they will be a danger to every team

"We were a threat and we will be a threat from set plays. We leave a bit disappointed, but we competed against the top four teams in the Championship and against a Premier League side.

"Although they made eight changes, those players have all played in the Premier League. Jacob Murphy - who I worked with at Coventry City - cost them £12m. I donít think we played a reserve team.

"Every player in our team played in League One last season, and Newcastle were in the Premier League, so itís great credit to come away from home and put in the performance we did.Ē



Matt Ritchie scored his third FA Cup goal for the club, having netted twice against Birmingham City in a Third Round replay at SJP in January 2017 - one a penalty.

The Scottish international now has 20 league and cup goals for Newcastle, today's effort coming 25 games after his 19th - at home to Arsenal in April 2018.  

Ritchie's spot kick conversion was our first of the season, after Kenedy missed at Cardiff City in the Premier League last August. Last season saw us awarded just one (at home to Burnley in January 2018) That was missed by Joselu, meaning this was our first successful competitive senior penalty since Ritchie scored at the same end against Preston North End in the Championship in April 2017

There were club FA Cup debuts for Fabian Schar, Florian Lejeune, Kenedy and Sean Longstaff. 

Goalkeeper Nathan Harker was named in a senior Newcastle squad for the first time, the 20 year-old an unused substitute and taking squad number 29.

There was a third club appearance and a home debut for Sean Longstaff, following a start away to Nottingham Forest in the League Cup and a substitute outing at Liverpool in the Premier League, both coming this season.

Jamie Sterry made his seventh appearance for United and the second of the season, following on from the League Cup defeat at Championship side Nottingham Forest. His debut came in the final Premier League game of the 2015/16 season, at home to Spurs.

Freddie Woodman made his second senior competitive appearance for United, 12 months after the first - against Luton Town at SJP in the FA Cup Third Round (won 3-1.)

NUFC v BR - FAC all-time:

2018/19 FAC3 drew 1-1 (h)
FAC3 won 2-1 (h)
1999/00 FAC5 won 2-1 (a)
1998/99 FAC5R won 1-0 (a) 1998/99 FAC5 drew 0-0 (h)
1994/95 FAC3R won 2-1 (a) 1994/95 FAC3 drew 1-1 (h)
1992/93 FAC5 lost 0-1 (a)
1951/52 SF drew 0-0 (n) 1951/52 SFR won 2-1 (n) 
1927/28 R3 lost 1-4 (a)
1909/10 R3 won 3-1 (h)

NUFC last 10 FAC3 ties:

2018/19 Blackburn Rovers (h) drew 1-1
Luton Town (h) won 3-1
2016/17 Birmingham City (a) drew 1-1 (won replay)
2015/16 Watford (a) lost 0-1
2014/15 Leicester City (a) lost 0-1
2013/14 Cardiff City (h) lost 1-2
2012/13 Brighton and Hove Albion (a) lost 0-2
2011/12 Blackburn Rovers (h) won 2-1
2010/11 Stevenage (a) lost 1-3
2009/10 Plymouth Argyle (a) drew 0-0 (won replay)



Newcastle's FA Cup campaign is still alive but it's difficult to know how, after an awful display against Championship opposition at St. James' Park on Saturday evening.

Once Rovers had gone ahead the hosts looked odds-on to exit the competition until substitute Ayoze Perez was tripped in the box and Matt Ritchie grabbed a late leveller from the penalty spot.

A fantastic turnout of over 36,000 fans waited in vain for an outbreak of football from a Magpies lineup showing eight changes from that which had started here against Manchester United in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Freddie Woodman, Jamie Sterry and Sean Longstaff all stepped up, while Florian Lejeune made his first appearance of the season following surgery on a knee injury suffered in the summer.

However it was those players given the chance to play their way into the manager's thoughts for Premier League service in the coming days and weeks were universally found lacking. The combined talents of Jacob Murphy, Kenedy and Joselu made no impression against a mid-table second tier side and all three have actually worsened, not improved, since moving to Tyneside. 

The shortcomings of our squad were all too easily exposed by mundane opponents including Geordie duo Adam Armstrong and Danny Graham and a disjointed and uninspiring performance verging on the criminally inept at times only belatedly improved when Jonjo Shelvey replaced the limp Isaac Hayden - who can count himself lucky if a Championship club take him, never mind a top-flight one.

That raised the quality of our passing from pitiful to mediocre, but the one inch-perfect ball that he played was completely wasted by Joselu. The Spaniard had some rough treatment early on that went unpunished and seemed to affect him but build-up play from his colleagues was non-existent. 

Bradley Dack put Rovers ahead early in the second half and they were only denied a second goal by Manquillo's goal-line clearance soon later, United's early promise having long since vanished.

Having struggled all season on home territory in the league, Rafa's side proved no more capable of taking the initiative and dictating play against Championship opponents and remain shot-shy.

Their best opportunity to level arrived in the 66th minute: three efforts on goal in quick succession - more than they'd managed in the rest of the game. Shelvey's header was saved, Lejeune's follow up shot was blocked in the six yard box amid shouts o handball before a combination of defender and goalkeeper then managed to deflect Joselu's attempted effort over the crossbar.

That seemed to be that until Ritchie's penalty conversion six minutes from the end for a foul on Perez, a decision that Rovers manager Tony Mowbray called "soft" but which is almost unheard of round these parts - our first home penalty award in almost 12 months.

Referee Kevin Friend checked using VAR before confirming the award and acting captain Ritchie sent the 'keeper the wrong way at the Gallowgate End - just reward for showing some of the intensity and commitment that was sadly lacking from many of his colleagues. 

That goal ensured that the ninth FA Cup tie between these sides will be settled by a replay and although United won all of the previous three against Rovers, it's an extra game that nobody of a black and white persuasion wanted: players, fans or manager.

Following downbeat media briefings in Ireland and Portugal before the season began, Rafa's recent "miracle" comment seems to have ruffled feathers once again within the club and perhaps also among his squad - always a dangerous game.  

Were a manager other than one with such an extensive CV be overseeing this mess, expressions like lost the dressing room could well be more audible than the current mutinous whispers. As it is, to see a man who won this competition just over a decade ago reduced to sending out a team to do no more than fulfill the fixture is as disgraceful as it is unacceptable. We shouldn't enter next year.

Those selected today should have been capable of much more, but in the main just tossed it off - perhaps unhappy or apprehensive at being labelled second-raters by Benitez? 

Whatever it is, the claim of confidence sapping from the crowd's reaction to going behind in games referred to by Ritchie is spurious - although it's nice to see someone bothered enough to actually say something sincerely, rather than issuing insincere apologies after the latest collapse. 

No, the indulgence of supporters here means that players do not get a rough ride. Ask Rafa, they didn't ironically applaud players leaving the field in Napoli, they stormed the training ground and tried break their legs....  

Try watching this lot week in, week out. Try watching a club renowned for its number nines now incapable of even signing one permanently. Try having a shot on target or even an attack worthy of that description and see what happens.  

The machinations and ramifications of the alleged takeover again overshadow everything else at this club - and seemingly provide a convenient excuse for some unacceptable individual performances on the field and in the boardroom. 

A similar situation befell us last season during the Amanda Staveley pantomime; namely a nine game 
winless run before Christmas when we couldn't pass water at St. James' Park.

A year on, we're currently on a run of one victory in ten outings and on the wrong side of new year, without the option of resorting to loans that we enjoyed in the absence of investment 12 months ago. Oh aye and the bugger's muddle making the manager signing a new deal before receiving funds but not trusting him to spend those funds runs on and on like a West End stage show.

Nice to see so many young fans today - what the future holds for them is anyone's guess though.



8 year-old Harry Edes-Oman made his 
SJP debut today. Another life ruined.....


Page last updated 28 January, 2019