A straightforward and enjoyable victory saw us cruise into the third round of the League Cup against a limited
Northampton side in a game lit up by a superb home debut by Florian Thauvin. We made wholesale changes from the draw at Old Trafford with only Haidara and Perez retained in the starting line up and first team debuts given to Darlow, Lascelles and Thauvin and we flew out of the blocks to go two up inside seven minutes.
It was Thauvin that put us ahead after just three minutes, stretching a boot out to get on the end of a teasing cross from Haidara and Northampton looked shellshocked as we scored again shortly after. This time Thauvin lined up a free kick on the corner of the box and his whipped ball was headed home by an unmarked Siem De Jong, who incredibly didn’t crick his neck or pull a muscle in stretching for the ball.
We could be forgiven for expecting a cricket score at that point but from nowhere, Northampton were right back in the game just moments after our second goal after a needless penalty was gifted to them by Tiote, who handled inside the box with seemingly little danger when a ball was headed back across the box. Richards crashed the ball home from the box giving Darlow no chance and the keeper had very little to do for the rest of the night but looked assured enough and a step up on the awful Rob Eliott.
We were quickly on top again though and Perez, De Jong and Thauvin looked dangerous every time the ball was played up to them, the little Spaniard showing some superb first touches and industry and Thauvin showing great vision and the ability to pick a range of passes. A daft booking from Tiote and a couple of half chances for the visitors reminded us we were still in the game but Perez saw a shot well saved and the balance of the game was firmly with us.
The tie was settled before the hour when a lovely passing move culminated in Thauvin laying a deft touch into the path of the onrushing Janmaat who finished smartly across the keeper into the far corner. The full back was excellent going forward and posed a threat all night, albeit against weak opposition and it will be interesting to see which line up McLaren plumps for at the back on Saturday. Increasingly, the new boy was almost single handedly running the show and incredibly, he laid on a third assist of the night to go with his goal on 67 minutes. Even more incredibly it was none other than Mike Williamson on the end of his free kick, heading in at the back post. The celebrations as such with the centre half (admittedly competent tonight) looked like a goodbye from his teammates, so things were getting better and better.
Thauvin was withdrawn to a standing ovation with Mitrovic coming on and former Cobblers player Marc, sorry Ivan, Toney came on for another debut in front of his old supporters who tellingly gave him a warm reception and he looked sharp in his short cameo. There were to be no further goals and the game fizzled out a little but it was very much job done by United and after the miserable experience of watching us in the cups in recent seasons, it was enjoyable to watch us ease to a comfortable victory, no matter the standard of the opposition.
It’s a little bit premature to talk about a feel-good factor just yet but certainly things seem a million miles better than they did than under the dark days of Carver and on first sights, all of our major new signings look to be good ‘uns. Sheffield Wednesday at home is a smashing draw for the next round – they’ll bring big numbers up here as Leeds did a couple of years back and will pose a stiffer test than Northampton did by far and I’ll admit to actually fancying us to get something against a perpetually wobbly Arsenal side this weekend. Up and at ‘em!
Newcastle United– Darlow 6, Janmaat 8, Lascelles 7, Williamson 7, Haidara 7, Aarons 5, Gouffran 5, Tiote 6, THAUVIN 9, De Jong 6, Perez 7
Ref – Coote – 6 – Had nowt much to do really
Our Fans – 6 – Canny turnout/noise for this stage of the competition
Their Fans – 7 – Good numbers and supported their team well
Keep the Faith
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
Third Round Tie at St James’ Park v Sheffield Wednesday w/c 21/Sep/15