After making it three wins out of three and consecutive clean sheets, Rafa Benitez was a happy man.
Concerned about the injured Rolando Aarons and waiting to hear about how serious it was, Rafa was also heartened by the performance of another player.
The Newcastle boss said that his team just had to be patient against a Cheltenham team set up in a negative formation with a five man defence.
That defence was eventually breached by a brilliant Ayoze Perez finish, just seconds after he came back onto the pitch with a bandage wrapped around his head.
Rafa felt that Ayoze Perez has picked up a lot of confidence from last night’s game, saying ‘Good to see a player with confidence…taking chances and trying to do something more’.
Perez is just one of the conundrums the Newcastle boss ahs to get to the bottom of in this ever busier pre-season.
Rafa Benitez talking to the club’s official TV channel:
“We knew it could be difficult but in the end we scored two goals, we won, we had some chances, but we lost Rolando Aarons, we lost Mitrovic, we lost Gayle – and that was the bad news.”
‘What can you tell us about the injuries?’
“Injuries in any competition are bad news. I think Mitrovic and Gayle will be fine because they are two concussions, so hopefully they will be fine.
“Rolando, we have to wait and see what the doctor says but could be more serious.”
‘Ayoze Perez got a knock to the head but then scored twice?’
“Yes, it is good to see players scoring goals and I think the team, especially second half, have more control.
“Good to see a player with confidence and trying to do things the right way – taking chances and trying to do something more.”
‘Cheltenham weren’t happy with the first goal, about Ayoze Perez coming back onto the pitch?’
“I spoke to the fourth official and the referee said yes, the rules are clear, you can let a player come on if he is not directly involved in the match – yes they were unlucky but these things happen.
“Obviously the first goal was important because then they needed to take more risk, at the start they had five at the back and we had little space and had to be patient.
“When we scored the second they had to be more open and we had another three or four chances.
“I said before the game that it is important to approach every competition like it is the most important one and try to win.
“It doesn’t matter the team selection, it only matters the players (selected) are ready in the match.”