All due respect to our worthy opponents but…
Newcastle 4 Northampton 1 Tuesday 25 August 7.45pm
Newcastle: Thauvin 3, de Jong 8, Janmaat 56, Williamson 63
Northampton: Richards 10 (pen)
After some tricky fixtures in the Premier, it was a welcome opportunity to get a winnable home game from the league cup.
All due respect to our worthy opponents, but after a seemingly endless string of Sky-televised away games in this round it was nice to be safely back at SJP with some other poor sods being beamed out as a ‘potential banana skin’.
Any thoughts of an upset here were dealt with pretty swiftly as United went ahead after only 3 minutes. Haidara’s deep cross was primed for a header, but Thauvin had other ideas, flying in with what the Northampton manager later described as a “Bruce Lee karate kick”.
A quick impact on his very first start for the club and a sign of things to come for the evening (and hopefully his Newcastle career), as the Frenchman was excellent throughout.
Thauvin continued his fine form with his first assist within 5 minutes, sending over a free kick that De Jong headed home to seemingly end the game as a contest before the ten minute mark.
The positives were racking up as (God forbid) we may have someone who can deliver from set-pieces and there were already telling contributions from those that had not had much first team involvement in the league so far, with nine changes from the battling draw at Old Trafford.
One change that probably put distance between himself and the first team may have been Cheick Tiote, who showed signs of his mad self by allowing Northampton back into the game.
When tracking a Cobblers player who was clearly heading out of play, Tiote threw a desperate hand up to block the last ditch cut back. The chances of this leading to danger were slim, but the blatant and needless handball led to a penalty that Richards put in, to spoil Darlow’s hopes of a debut clean sheet.
This gave the visitors a bit of hope and they started to get into the game a bit. Fortunately Northampton are not your kickabilly style of league 2 team, and looked to play a bit. Tiote and Gouffran did not stamp their authority on the middle of the park and the visitors enjoyed some spells of possession without really threatening Darlow’s goal.
United, by contrast, showed the welcome trait of looking like they would score every time they crossed the halfway line. Thauvin finished off Perez’s run into the box only to be denied by the offside flag and De Jong missed a couple of late chances to extend the lead ahead of half time.
The second half continued in the same vein with Newcastle looking comfortable with the new passing game and controlling the pace in a way that hasn’t been seen, even against lower league opponents, in recent years. Under Pardew these ties would invariably see an unconvincing victory squeezed out or, in the case of Stevenage, outright embarrassing defeat.
The result looked safe within ten minutes of the restart as another fine passing move tore Northampton to shreds, ultimately allowing Thauvin to play in Janmaat to slide it in. Thauvin wasn’t finished though and claimed his hat trick of assists minutes later.
Perez took yet another wallop off a defender and our new favourite Frenchman delivered another smart set-piece for Mike Williamson to thump in a back post header, before trotting off all nonchalant like he does it every week.
With Northampton tiring and United taking their foot off the gas, the game slowed down a bit. There was the added value of Mitrovic coming on and losing his temper a bit, but thankfully no cards.
This was followed up by a nice touch in bringing Ivan Toney on to make his debut against his former club, with the appreciation of the travelling fans adding to his warm reception.
The closing stages were fairly unremarkable, but this was an enjoyable and engaging game to be at, a healthy sign given the relative chore that some cup ties have been to wade through in recent times. Progress was achieved and the quality game time for the players involved can only be a positive ahead of the pending visit of Arsenal.
One slight downer was the unheard of lack of cock-ups from our peers as the results from elsewhere came in, with Watford the only Premier League team not making it into the round 3 draw.
Speaking of which, another pleasant surprise as we came out with at home again and avoided a PL opponent, though Sheffield Wednesday will present a tougher prospect in our first attempt at the silverware we actually want these days.
PS This is the first time ever that a team’s first two competitive home games have been Northampton and Southampton, a fact I have not bothered to corroborate in any way, but is surely true. Probably.
These are the key stats as provided by BBC Sport;
Possession was 60% Newcastle and 40% Northampton
Total shots was 13 for Newcastle and Northampton 5
Shots on target was Newcastle 8 and Northampton 2
While corners was Newcastle 4 and Northampton 3
Player ratings totals below from fans so far, add yours and then press submit.
Team: Darlow, Janmaat, Williamson, Lascelles, Haidara (Toney 78), Tiote, Gouffran, Thauvin (Mitrovic 65), de Jong, Aarons, Perez (Colback 72)
Unused Subs: Elliot, Mbemba, Dummett, Wijnaldum
Ref: David Coote
Crowd: 26,923 (989 Northampton)
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