Saturday night ended Newcastle 0 Blackburn 1.
A remarkable crowd of over thirty six thousand watching utter rubbish for the vast majority of the game.
As second-half substitutes were introduced, Newcastle’s performance did improve up to a point and eventually that led to a game-saving penalty wit six minutes left on the clock.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game, so here goes…
Newcastle are still in the FA Cup
The dream lives on, Matt Ritchie’s penalty meaning Newcastle United will be in the fourth round draw on Monday night.
In this 12th year of Mike Ashley’s ownership, can NUFC finally reach the FA Cup fifth round?
Quite remarkable, over thirty six thousand people turning out to watch this.
I couldn’t list any valid reasons as to why anybody should have turned up, apart from the fact that this is a chance to bring along those, especially kids, who don’t normally get the chance to get to matches, with the help of decent ticket prices.
Despite everything Mike Ashley throws at us, this underlines the incredible support Newcastle United has. I would estimate at least 20,000-25,000 were not season ticket holders. Just imagine if one day this was a club ran with ambitious by decent owners…
To illustrate the point as a comparison, Sunderland had only 8,212 at the Stadium of Light when they were knocked out of the FA Cup last month.
Clearly he wasn’t 100% after having only had 45 minutes of reserve football after his bad injury – but very impressive how quickly he has come back that pre-season blow.
Along with Schar it meant we had two centre-backs comfortable on the ball and to be honest, more comfortable on the ball than most of those playing further up the pitch.
He is one player who will undoubtedly benefit from having the replay as another guaranteed 90 minutes, by the end of this month he should hopefully be just about back to full fitness and looking to start in the Premier League.
Newcastle are still in the FA Cup
Matt Ritchie’s 84th minute penalty means that Newcastle are in the draw tomorrow night.
This guarantees an extra game only days before the key relegation clash with Cardiff on Saturday 19 January, not what Rafa Benitez wanted in any shape or form.
The draw also keeps the possibility alive of a fourth round tie on the weekend of Saturday 26 January, once again something Rafa could do without, as NUFC have Premier League matches against both Man City and Spurs inside the following week.
On the fringe
It was a much-changed side (8 changes) full of players who might feel they deserve more of a chance in the Premier League games.
Not one of them did anything to convince that this is the case.
Longstaff wasn’t helped by those around him and Woodman was left exposed for the goal as Dack had a free header (though he should have still maybe saved it).
However, none of the more established/obvious fringe players contributed anything to the match, or towards convincing Rafa Benitez.
I didn’t know you cared…
Even worse than lacking quality, it is difficult to believe that all of those Newcastle players gave it everything against Blackburn.
It all sounds a bit hollow now, this idea that no matter what, we now have a squad full of players who really care and always give 100%.
Joselu, Hayden, Kenedy and Murphy being the prime suspects. The likes of Sterry, Longstaff and Manquillo may not have been very good but lack of effort wasn’t something you could accuse that trio of.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Blackburn 1
Newcastle – Ritchie 84 (Pen)
Blackburn – Dack 56
Possession was Blackburn 46% Newcastle 54%
Total shots were Blackburn 7 Newcastle 19
Shots on target were Blackburn 3 Newcastle 9
Corners were Blackburn 8 Newcastle 7
Referee: Kevin Friend
Woodman, Manquillo , Schar, Lejeune, Sterry, Ritchie, Longstaff (Perez 80), Hayden (Shelvey 57), Murphy (Atsu 75), Kenedy, Joselu
Harker, Clark, Yedlin, Rondon
Crowd: 36,440 (3,000 Blackburn)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction HERE)
(Rafa Benitez “A replay is bad news” – Read HERE)
(Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players v Blackburn – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 1 Blackburn 1 – Match report HERE)
(Blackburn fans comment on the 1-1 draw HERE)