|Newcastle United 4 v 1 Rochdale|
Tuesday, 14th January 2020 Kick-off 19:45
Match Report: Newcastle 4-1 Dale
Wednesday, 15th Jan 2020 12:47 by AtThePeake
Newcastle United took advantage of some glaring defensive errors to thump Dale 4-1 at St James' Park in Tuesday's FA Cup Third Round replay.
After an own goal from Eoghan O'Connell broke the deadlock, strikes from Scott Longstaff, Miguel Almiron and Joellinton secured the victory before MJ Williams rescued a consolation for Dale with his first goal for the club.
Backed by an impressive away following at one of the most famous grounds in the country, Dale actually got the first attempt of the game away, a long-range strike from Jimmy Keohane, operating on the left-hand side of a four man midfield, dragging wide of Karl Darlow's left-hand post.
From there however, Newcastle's Premier League quality really started to show. Almiron slid an effort from the edge of the box just wide before hitting the post just a few seconds later with a left-footed strike that took a deflection off MJ Williams on it's way to goal.
The deadlock was broken on 17 minutes however as Dale finally succumbed to the pressure they were being placed under by the Magpies. A sweeping cross from deep on the left hand side from Matt Ritchie was inadvertently turned goalwards by a stretching O'Connell. Sanchez was left stranded, the ball hit the centre of the net, and Dale's resistance was over.
In the next ten minutes, Steve Bruce's men really turned the heat up and indeed the first half became reminiscent of the first half of the Spotland clash only this time, the Magpies were putting their chances away.
Another deep cross from the Newcastle left side was hit towards Longstaff and although he mis-controlled his touch, a kind deflection off O'Connell's chest left the young midfielder one-on-one with Sanchez and he made no mistake to side-foot home from 12 yards out for 2-0.
By 26 minutes, the tie was completely out of reach for Dale. Although the passing out from the back at times this season has been a delight to see, we have at times been guilty of trying too hard to play through the press and against players of Premier League quality, you will get punished if you don't execute that tactic to perfection.
After some admittedly neat passing, the ball fell to Sanchez who produced one of the worst passes I've ever seen from a goalkeeper, straight to the feet of the lurking Almiron, who continued his rich vein of goalscoring form by steadying himself and firing in the third.
With confidence understandably high among the Newcastle players, Dale were chasing shadows at this point as the likes of Almiron and Ritchie in particular kept causing problems with their quick feet and elite level movement. Ritchie should have made it four when Atsu pounced on a spilled cross from Sanchez and fired a low cross back to the Scotsman who clipped over the bar from the edge of the six yard box.
The disappointment came from how avoidable the goals were but from here on out, Dale actually had some decent moments in the game and Wilbraham almost clawed his side back into it, striking a half-volley on the turn just over the bar after chesting down a deep corner from Jimmy Ryan.
Both sides had a few more long-range attempts before the half, Lejeune coming closest for the hosts from around 25 yards, but the break came, Lynch replaced Sanchez in the Dale goal, and the visitors managed to enjoy themselves a little more in the second half.
Some encouraging signs came in the opening minutes of the second half as Ryan had a well-timed long-range volley dip just too late to avoid going over the crossbar and Stephen Dooley misjudged a headed chance to get on the scoresheet, whilst Camps also had a shot from 30 yards that was well handled by Karl Darlow.
Jonjo Shelvey's introduction helped Newcastle control the tempo more again in the second half and he had a shot himself that curled wide of Lynch's right post, but the game was fizzling out by this point with neither side seemingly willing to overstretch themselves with little on the line.
Newcastle added their fourth on 82 minutes, young substitute Tom Allan, who looked threatening on his first-team debut, swung a low cross into the box which was met by Joellinton who swept home his first goal at St James' Park and ran to celebrate with his manager Steve Bruce.
The 2,500 travelling supporters did eventually have a goal to celebrate though. Aaron Wilbraham brought down Fabio Tavares' deep cross and laid on MJ Williams who fired a low strike in off the post for a consolation goal, which at least restored some pride for a wounded Dale outfit.
In the end, individual mistakes would be our undoing but after a terrific 1-1 home draw we got the chance to see Dale play at one of the most famous grounds in the country, having been to another earlier in the season. Stay up this year, and we could look back on this campaign as one to really cherish in a few seasons.
I didn't want to be too harsh with the player ratings given the standard of opposition, but it would be disingenuous to go too high with them, so here they are:
Robert Sanchez: 3 - Completely wrong-footed for the own-goal and his lackadaisical passing cost us the third - plus they almost got a fourth in the first half after he failed to hold on to a hopeful cross. Not sure whether being substituted at half-time will help his confidence however if there was no injury involved.
Luke Matheson: 6 - Did well to find space and provide an out-ball for both O'Connell and MJ Williams. The first two goals came from crosses from the right hand side but from deeper areas.
MJ Williams: 5 - Struggled with the occasion it appeared to me and never really looked comfortable throughout. Have given him an extra point just for getting himself on the scoresheet.
Eoghan O'Connell: 5 - Dreadful mistake for the opening goal but didn't let it affect his confidence too much and continued to try and play in his distinctive style which will no doubt have pleased BBM.
Rhys Norrington-Davies: 5 - A big occasion for him to come back into the squad for and much like MJ never really seemed to settle himself. Good to see him back in the starting eleven though!
Jimmy Keohane: 7 - Put in a couple of decent long-range efforts and worked hard down the left-hand side in difficult circumstances. Has to be commended for his ability to slot in pretty much wherever he is needed - I wonder if he could play up front?
Jimmy Ryan: 6 - Played some lovely passes in all fairness, but he's best when able to control the tempo of a game and that was never likely to happen away from home against Premier League opposition.
Callum Camps: 7 - Showed some really neat touches that wouldn't have looked out of place from the opposition players and showed good strength to hold and carry the ball at times.
Stephen Dooley: 4 - Never really looked like doing anything with the ball and the first two goals came from crosses from an area he arguably should have been defending. Not his best night.
Ian Henderson: 7 - Much like Camps, showed good strength and determination and also produced some neat touches of Premier League quality. Starved of service as he has been so often this season.
Aaron Wilbraham: 6 - Got an assist but struggled to make an impact over the 90 minutes. Ideally, we need a forward that can start as a Plan A and Wilbraham can be a very effective option from the bench if we need to change it up - much like in the home game.
Jay Lynch: 6 - Don't usually rate subs but since he played as long as Sanchez it's only fair. Made a couple of decent saves but Newcastle didn't threaten nearly as much in the second half with the game sewn up. Couldn't be blamed for the goal.
Photo: Action Images
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