Bad heads all round despite Newcastle 2 Cheltenham 0
Newcastle 2 Cheltenham 0 – Tuesday 23 August 7.45pm
The scoreline may suggest it was smooth progress for Newcastle United but it was anything but.
A spirited first half Cheltenham performance made things difficult for a United side who were slow to get going.
Rafa Benitez made eight changes from the side that beat Bristol City on Saturday and maybe no surprise it took time for any real fluency.
Ayoze Perez won the game with two goals only two (match) minutes apart, ether side of half-time.
However, it will be the injuries sustained during tonight’s encounter that are likely to be at the forefront of Rafa’s mind.
Only 24 minutes in and the perpetually injured Rolando Aarons was stretchered off and replaced by Yoan Gouffran.
Then a quarter of an hour later it was Aleksandar Mitrovic who took a blow to the head and had to be substituted, four goal Dwight Gayle coming off the bench.
Worse was to follow as Gayle was then forced off himself 14 minutes into the second half with a head injury of his own.
In between the non-stop action for the medical staff, Perez proved to be the match winner.
He himself picked up an injury to the head but came back onto the pitch just seconds before the half-time whistle and curled an excellent effort beyond the visiting keeper.
A couple of minutes after half-time it was two for both Perez and Newcastle, with Gayle squaring a ball for the Spaniard to finish easily.
With 10 minutes to go it should have been a hat-trick but faced with only the keeper after a great ball from Shelvey, Ayoze Perez missed the target.
Everything crossed that the injury situation hasn’t dramatically worsened and let’s hope Ayoze Perez gains confidence from tonight, having looked totally out of sorts so far this season.
Full match report to follow.
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Cheltenham 0
Newcastle: Perez 45, 47
Possession was Cheltenham 37% Newcastle 63%
Total shots were Cheltenham 9 Newcastle 15
Shots on target were Cheltenham 5 Newcastle 6
Corners were Cheltenham 3 Newcastle 5
Team: Darlow, Sterry, Hanley, Lascelles, Gamez, Shelvey, Colback, Aarons (Gouffran 24), Perez, Diame, Mitrovic (Gayle 38 (Anita 59))
Unused Subs: Sels, Hayden, Dummett, Mbemba
Referee: Steve Martin
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