It was canny this actually…even if my reasons for going were just plain daft
This escalated very quickly for me and my mates.
With a willing designated driver we had made the decision to round off the Christmas period with a quick trip to Spotland; chalk up a new ground, surely a tie even we could win easily etc.
Trudging out of the ground afterwards, shell shocked at the narrowly squeaked draw, we made the call to do something even dafter, and see the job through in the replay.
It’s probably a matter of time before any sort of replays get done away with, sacrificed to the jaws of the money machine. This would stink because of reasons like tonight, as a side like Rochdale can score a decent purse from a visit to a ground like St James’ as well as a big night out for their players.
Luckily for the strong United side sent out again, Rochdale resembled the shower of blundering strangers that survived the first half last Saturday as opposed to the wannabe giant-killers who bossed the second. After a spirited first five minutes, United took a stranglehold on the game that, uncharacteristically, they would not relinquish until the tie was over.
The first goal was a bit on the soft side as Ritchie’s speculative cross was directed into his own net by Dale defender Eoghan O’Connell, who from his incredibly Irish name I can only assume needed to be sure the ball didn’t reach the lurking Joelinton so, and unfortunately made a massive bollix of himself.
One nil early on and comfortable, but this happened at Rochdale didn’t it so let’s not over react, we want at least a two goal cushion. It was a hairy three minutes but that duly arrived, Matty Longstaff given enough time to bring the ball down, set himself and notch yet another goal against a team from Greater Manchester. Comfortable? Well, I’d feel better if we could get a third…
If Rochdale’s defending was slack on the previous goals, it descended into comical for Almiron’s third. Dale goalie Robert Sanchez had been given man of the match in the first game, with some outstanding saves from Muto and Joelinton keeping his side alive to stage that second half revival. Feeling the pressure a bit from a back pass, Sanchez panicked and paffed the ball straight to Miggy, who had time to take a touch and pick his spot, four in seven games for the Paraguayan, what will the mackems talk about now?
The second half was a bit flat as the result was now beyond doubt and Bruce enjoyed the rare luxury of saving players’ energy, withdrawing Almiron and the returning pair of Lascelles and Ritchie as thoughts turned to Chelsea. However, there was an obvious narrative developing in the game, with United still well on top and the result safe, to get Joelinton that elusive goal.
After a couple of false dawns, it was a nice moment when the goal arrived. Andy Carroll played a lovely pass to release young debutant Tom Allan down the right. Allan toasted his man and squared for Joelinton to force home from close range. It’s a funny sound, cheers of relief.
The Brazilian raced to hug Bruce in celebration, clearly a public show of appreciation for keeping faith in him. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be of Bruce’s gamble in persisting with all this game time, as it will be hailed as excellent management if Joelinton now comes into form in front of goal. If he breaks down injured from the constant football, it’s probably not great management to be honest, and if he returns to his goalshy ways in front of Premier League defences it’s all a bit academic.
Rochdale gave their army of fans something to cheer with a late consolation, Jordan Williams pinging a shot in off both posts from a corner, then Carroll came close to reopening his own account in clashing one off the bar. Come full time everyone seemed pleased with the surprisingly professional job done and it’s full steam at Oxford.
It did emerge during the game that Mike Ashley had deigned to show his chubby face on Tyneside tonight, as he no doubt sat next to Charnley saying “what’s the problem? The strikers scored!” While no one was aware he’d be there going into the ground, I do find it a bit disappointing he wasn’t given a blasting from the crowd, with no anti-Ashley chants audible at all.
This may have something to do with the crowd demographic, as many young families, gangs of youths and (in the row in front of me) entire kids football teams took advantage of the £5/£10 tickets. Despite my disappointment at the fat man’s free pass, you can’t begrudge their innocently wanting to enjoy the win and anyone spiteful enough to think like that, clearly has no appreciation of the way they felt themselves at that age, or understanding that kids don’t give a sh.t about politics and nor should they. There’s plenty of time in life to feel miserable.
There’s also Rochdale to think about here. At a time when their near neighbours Bury have gone out of business, I wonder how much security this 30k crowd and the televised first match have given them for the near future, not to mention the experience for the players and fans of playing in that environment. At some point no doubt money will win and all FA Cup replays will be abolished, largely to the detriment of the smaller clubs.
My own reasons for going last night (commitment to see the tie through) were just plain daft and possibly reflective of some psychological imperfection.
I came out wondering if we could do this a bit different though. Would it be the worst idea to stand down whenever we play a lower league team and try and get an in-ground form of protest going instead? Benefit the smaller club financially and create a bit of unrest that Mike can’t avoid that would likely get some good TV exposure. Most feel they can’t give their own money under any circumstance, which I get, but maybe there are more ways than one to attack this.
If you can’t be bothered to consider that there may be shades of grey in individuals approach to the club, just confirm your willy is too little to concern yourself with stuff like listening to other opinions, or widely assessing a complicated situation by calling me an idiot in the comments below, or the kids at the match scabs. You’ve not read this far anyway.
It was canny this actually.
Stats (half-time stats in brackets) from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 4 Rochdale 1 (Newcastle 3 Rochdale 0) – Tuesday 14 January 7.45pm
O’Connell (OG) 17, M Longstaff 20, Almiron 26, Joelinton 82
Possession was Rochdale 36% (30%), Newcastle 64% (70%)
Total shots were Rochdale 12 (5), Newcastle 16 (7)
Shots on target were Rochdale 5 (2), Newcastle 5 (2)
Corners were Rochdale 5 (3), Newcastle 5 (4)
Crowd: 29,786 (3,000 Rochdale)
Newcastle team v Rochdale:
Darlow, Krafth, Lascelles (Allan 57), Lejeune, Ritchie (Shelvey 69), Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Matty Longstaff, Atsu, Almiron (Carroll 62), Joelinton
Elliot, Clark, Willems, Fernandez
(Newcastle v Rochdale player ratings from fans – Three stand out performers – Read HERE)
(Steve Bruce tells Mike Ashley he would prefer to have one or two quality signings instead of ‘masses’ – Read HERE)
(Jamaal Lascelles with positive messages after 4-1 win over Rochdale – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 4 Rochdale 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Tuesday’s win – Read HERE)
(Newcastle 4 Rochdale 1 – Job done and a remarkable 3-0 half-time lead despite only 2 shots on target – Read HERE and watch Almiron’s goal)
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf
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