In this climate of mistrust and misery, it was great to see the FA Cup, given the salvation it regularly brings to all at Newcastle United. To be fair though, people need to pull their heads out of their arses big time, given the amount of shade I’ve seen thrown at the impressive 36k attendance.

Disregarding the fact (on a night that I, Daniel Blake was on the TV) that the £10 entry price may have afforded an opportunity to people who aren’t so well off to get to a game, a cursory glance of the demographic would tell you the same story it does whenever we’ve been unlucky enough to have the third round inflicted on our home crowd – lots of little children, brought along by parents at the tail end of their school holidays.

Some for the first time, some as the result of an eagerly awaited Christmas gift. All wide-eyed and untarnished by cynicism, accompanied by parents who just want to pass on their birthright to the next generation, the same way that someone took the time to do with every person who cares about their club.

Some groups of slightly older kids, relinquishing the Fortnite controller to head to the game with their pals.

Shame on you if you are so blinded by Ashley rage you think these little chaps and ladies should be denied the opportunity by politics beyond their realm of understanding.

Having said that, I’m glad I didn’t have any of my kids with me as this game was more likely to turn the wee ones off the idea of supporting Newcastle. Eight changes from the Man Utd game and absolutely nobody staked a claim to step up from the fringes.

The first half seemed an infinite meander of dull to and fro, with the usual scarcity of action. Ritchie was captain for the day, one of few first team regulars starting, but you’d think he was the one playing for a place as he put his usual shift in, bringing a fine save from Raya in the Blackburn goal. This then fell kindly to Joselu, whose shoddy half attempt was so dithering and unconvincing it gave Raya a chance he should never have had.

Joselu had tumbled earlier with some serious looking ankle problem. It looked like six months, the way he writhed and slapped the ground, but he eventually just got up, seemingly deciding he’d be ok if he played at 30% for the rest of the match.

Another one who failed to grasp his chance was Jacob Murphy, who did at least break his anonymity to risk a shot on goal from a tight angle, Raya holding on when a bit more power could have seen it bounce off him for a tap in. Joselu would have missed the tap in like, but it’s nice to try.

Ironically, the whole claret of a replay could have been avoided with slightly better timing. Ten minutes into the second half Bradley Dack rose to power a header past Woodman and lead everyone to assume this was Rovers into the fourth round. However, United were about to improve slightly due to the introduction of Jonjo Shelvey for the ineffective Hayden, United still well below par but stepping up to a level that would have won the tie had It been goalless when Shelvey entered the fray.

Shortly after, a United corner brought more goalmouth action than the first hour had seen as Shelvey’s header was well saved and follow ups from Lejeune then Joselu were kept out by Danny Graham and the goalie, the resultant corner being delayed while the ref checked with VAR for a handball that looked likely. Course we weren’t getting a penalty.

Blackburn weren’t looking too adventurous now, seemingly looking to hit us on the break and physically attack Woodman under their long bloopers into the box. Manquillo cleared off the line to keep faint hopes alive.

Shelvey then showed signs of the form we desperately need, sending through a beautifully timed ball to set Joselu in on goal. Unfortunately, Joselu approached this perfectly placed pass like a drunk man in flippers trying to control a live chicken. His awful first touch ended the attack.

However, we were soon to find out what we all knew all along. VAR would save us from the regular robbings, corruptions and cheatery that has plagued many years of inaccurate league finishes, bent cup exits and fixed relegations. Perez had just came on when his run was abruptly halted by a blatant foul in the box. The ref was probably after giving a goal kick or whatever, when VAR kicked in to dispense justice. The delay for the confirmation might get to some penalty takers, but Ritchie kept his cool and buried it.

By putting his head down and running at the defence, Perez had made something happen. This suggested that if Murphy, Kenedy or Joselu had been inclined to have a go at a defence residing in the lower third of the Championship, this whole day might have been a bit more fun, the kids in attendance might actually ask to come back, and we wouldn’t have the unpalatable proposition looming of a replay at Ewood, some three or four days before the crucial game against Cardiff at SJP, realistically the only one of the next four Premier League matches we have any chance of winning.

Maybe it’s indicative of the most pivotal month of an increasingly upsetting season that we failed to make any decisive progress on the day. Worryingly, there were few positives to suggest that there is back up to first XI shortcomings in light of the increasing certainty that they ain’t coming from the transfer market.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Blackburn 1

Goals…

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

Newcastle United:

Woodman, Manquillo , Schar, Lejeune, Sterry, Ritchie, Longstaff (Perez 80), Hayden (Shelvey 57), Murphy (Atsu 75), Kenedy, Joselu

Unused Subs:

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)

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

To feature like Jamie Smith submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here


  • Alex

    Joselu is as fake as that guy that conned Southampton a few years ago. There is absolutely nothing in his game that offers anything positive.

    It’s usually a mistake to put young players in at the deep end in this situation, but seriously, if we’re going to have a forward on the bench to bring on for the last 15 minutes, then Joselu is no longer an option – worth giving Sorensen 15 mins here and there.

    • Mrkgw

      Agreed iro Sorensen. 100%.

    • Mike D

      If we’re lucky, we might get £2 for the hoss which could reduce the debt to Mike Ashley. He could then drop the asking price for the sale of the club. Every little helps, as they say.

  • Kenny

    Giving the ball to the Hoss usually ends up starting the oppositions attack,
    he was like an extra defender for Blackburn.

    • Toontaff

      The Hoss has been voted MoM by Blackburn fans………..

  • Mrkgw

    Confidence is shot and questions should be raised as to why? The despicable one is a major player in this but surely Rafa should be doing his bit to try to lift spirits. For his qualities, I don’t see him as the type of character able to do this with any ease. Murphy was judged to be the better of the two twins and yet, he has delivered little. Again, why?

    • Sickandtired

      Coz like his brother, he flatters to deceive. Not a PL player and that’s as simple as it get’s. It’s also plain to see why Chelsea let Atsu go and why we have Kenedy on loan.

    • Ruel Intentions

      Rafa was the type of character to do it last season, when we started a run of excellent form from about this time, to rise from about this position and finish very well. The players showed total application, focus and support for him. So I disagree that he cannot inspire confidence.

      Doing it again is going to be very hard, I grant you, with everything going on off the field and interference from injuries and internationals etc.

      Midfield is an issue (every position is, of course, but this mainly). We badly need Shelvey and Diame to re-kindle their form from this time last year.

  • Toon

    It’s not people who take the kids, it’s people like the writer of this dross who are the problem. Season ticket holder paying extra to attend a meaningless FA cup tie despite being a writer for a fanzine that criticise NUFC daily. The problem is we have all these vocal fans gobbing off on sites about Ashley but who are all deep in his pockets, putting up with it season after season but whining constantly about how rubbish it all is while buying tickets, beers, merch and funding Ashley’s greed and manipulation of the club, shame on you mate you Ashley apologist

    • fistsofsteel2

      Most money I’ve spent on the club in the past 15yrs was a few seasons back. My employer paid for and took a few of us to a game. I bought a hot dog…so the cost of the hot dog is all Ashley, and the club has had out of me in the past 15yrs.

      I won’t pay to go to games, won’t buy any merchandise, won’t pay for sky or other channels, and don’t shop at Sports Direct.

      • Toontaff

        A hot dog cooked by Penfold!

      • panther

        still fat too bloody much

    • Brian Standen

      Clearly you are a fan who jumped on board the good ship NUFC when Keegan or SBR were managers
      Fact NUFC have been mostly rubbish since 1956, I grant we had a few seasons here and there!
      So were those who went in the other many drab years who stood in 6 inches of urine in a half demolished stadium Westwood apologists?
      Yes Ashley is to blame but so were his many predecessors – all crooks and charlatans.
      It’s your choice not to go just like it’s my choice to go, difference is I won’t slag off those who don’t go!

      • We’ll support you evermore

        Spot on.

      • NUFCLX

        The big difference between the Seymour’s, Westwood’s, Mckeags and Fatman, they were shight at running a football club but they actually liked the Toon, Fatman hates the Toon, the supporters and the city. I do not believe he will ever change, that’s why I have just cancelled my ST after 55 years of supporting the Toon.
        I agree it is your choice to go, I made the same choice for the past 11 years but I finally realised enough is enough.
        How much can u take before you to come to the same conclusion.

        • Brian Standen

          I have already reached that conclusion I did years ago.
          He hates everything to do with the people who follow NUFC, but him stopping me doing something I like makes him the winner!
          I do take your point however about his predecessors!

          • Phildene

            So you look for an excuse to go by saying he’s not going to stop you doing something you like, then you’re no better than the rest of the morons who still go. We cancelled our STs years back and have never regretted it. We could not bank roll Ashley or sit in that morgue like atmosphere any longer! The reason Ashley will stay is through so called ‘fans’ like you constantly bankrolling him.

          • Brian Standen

            When will you accept season ticket or ticket money does not bankroll Ashley – the TV companies do!
            As for being one of the 50,000 morons, it’s my choice – and people hiding behind aliases wont change my mind!
            I note you cancelled your ticket years ago- May I ask how long you held it for,?

          • Brian Standen

            I take it you can’t abswer my question below – I was not trying to be clever I was genuinely interested!

          • panther

            and you like a real loser

          • Brian Standen

            Faceless keyboard warrior!

          • panther

            enabler

          • Brian Standen

            Not got a clue what your talking about! Either talk sense or don’t bother!
            If you could at least try to make a valid point it would be appreciated

          • panther

            Enabler scum

          • Brian Standen

            Look forward to meeting you anytime you want

          • panther

            Only if you’re buying

          • Brian Standen

            I got no problem with that

          • panther

            That includes hookers and coke

          • Brian Standen

            Are you old enough?

          • NUFCLX

            That is your decision and I respect that but my opinion is every penny that goes into the club makes him a winner at the only game he is interested in – making money.

      • Tweed Mag

        Brian, from 1993 to 2005 NUFC regularly challenged at the top of the PL, got to a couple of finals and played in the Champions League or UEFA Cup. Entertaining stuff supplied by talented players and managers. I first stood on the terraces in 1967 and I agree there have been some dire seasons. The good years showed how it could be done, the mistakes of McKeag, Westwood et all were put to bed. Ashley has undone all of that and fans of our generation should not stand for it. Times have changed, but expectations have not – ambition is missing and that is unforgivable. Giving money to Ashley is a sure way to continue the current state of affairs. If you continue to support the current regime with your hard earned cash, you are actively returning the club to those bad old days.

        • Brian Standen

          I take your point because I think you recognised mine, I just don’t see what difference any ticket money makes to Ashley ! It’s all TV money now – which rightly or wrongly is where it all went wrong in football
          Out of interest and hypothetically speaking – what happens if a takeover did happen and NUFC suddenly challenged again!
          Match tickets would be hard to get for those not already in!
          I have friends same as you, won’t go – I asked them the same question. They don’t have an answer given the stadium is about 93% full – a lot would miss out

          • Tweed Mag

            It is the message it sends out – every empty seat sends a signal to those who watch Sky. The SD brand goes further down hill, investors get on his back, shareholders ask difficult questions. Match day revenue is not the be all and end all for Ashley, but the shortfall will end up his problem.

          • Brian Standen

            That may be so and it’s a fair point- I just don’t think that it affects him as much as some think

  • fistsofsteel2

    My neighbour took his kids so I’ve reported him to social services for child cruelty.

    It is totally unacceptable to expose children to such horrific displays.

  • Toontaff

    Next, 3 positives, 3 negatives?

  • Paul Patterson

    If the club don’t take the competition seriously, I don’t see why the supporters should be lambasted for not doing so . .

  • Toontaff

    Why did Rafa not just play his best team? Who actually cares if we stay up, just to fight relegation again? It would have peed FCB off, too!

  • sickofthis

    1. Mike Ashley is the biggest problem at NUFC
    2. Mike Ashley is only here because of money
    3. Stop giving Mike Ashley money.
    Why do people find that so difficult to understand?

    • Angelswithdirtyfaces

      It is SKY who are giving him the most money, and as long as he has that revenue he won’t GAF.

  • Toontaff

    Head a chicken in the air
    Wearing flipflops on your feet
    Buy a new number 9
    Who’s already on the scrapheap
    Watching him miss a barn door
    It’s like extracting wisdom teeth
    Whilst our minion quartet
    Rehash takeover rumours generated by Keith!

    • Leazes.

      chorus

      Agadoo doo doo push them tickets to the rail
      Agadoo doo doo tell a lie about a sale
      To the left to the right jump up and down and to the knee
      Come and dance to my tune Douglas at the ron-eeee.

  • Cushty lad

    Will we ever find out who actually signed “the hoss”?? Rafa would have been better off walking down the bigg market on a friday night and slinging the whole £5 mill in £50’s up in the air & shouting ” have a good night everyone” It’s on the fat lad!

    • Sickandtired

      He would have been better starting the entire Wallsend Boys Club team or similar. Our lot last night looked no better nor any more skilled than a kids under 9 side. Kick the ball anywhere. Can’t pass. Can’t keep possession. Can’t threaten any form of meaningful attack.

      • molend

        Noo ye’re taakin, kidder. Best post I’ve seen on here for years. And I’m not being sarcastic

  • Sickandtired

    Say what you like, but when Rafa has to do any of his allowed shopping from the pick-n-mix barrels of footballs Woolworths, then this is the inevitable result.
    Only one guy to blame for season upon season of this.

    • Big John

      He had a quality squad at Real Madrid and bored their fan’s to death while failing miserably, as he did at Inter Milan. I like Rafa but his approach is nothing short of Jurassic

    • Cushty lad

      I agree. Weren’t having a cheap pop at Rafa

  • All in all, after the team sheet was in I knew we were in for a tough game.
    Besides Ritchie, Lejeune and Hayden none of the players on the pitch knew what they were doing.
    I will take a replay and would field exactly the same team if I were Rafa.
    If they can’t beat Blackburn, then they are never going to be good enough for the Prem.

  • Tommy

    We could be playing the Mackem`s a lot sooner than fans think.
    most clubs have 4 strikers, at least two number 10`s and 3 creative midfielders.
    this season has finally caught up with Ashley`s penny pinching and if we go down we won`t be coming back up.

    • Mr_Kinnear

      Doing a Leeds. Mid table obscurity for 25 years, in the championship

      • Tommy

        Could well happen.

      • Danimal

        Leeds did it by over-reaching themselves, crashing financially, followed by a period of austerity and severely downgraded status in the football food chain. Ashley has simply cut out the first stage and taken us straight to austerity and downgrade. Like a rollercoaster ride without any high points.

  • Geordiegiants

    I think Jacob Murphy needs to go out on loan. He definetly has potential and he certainly has the desire to play for Newcastle.
    Hoss on the other hand has the desire, unfortunately he is dire.