United progressed to the last 16 in the League Cup with a comfortable victory and a much improved performance against their opponents of only 72 hours earlier. Rafa made wholesale changes from the weekend with only Ritchie, Shelvey and Diame remaining in the starting line up from the league game, with the visitors themselves much changed too.
We started brightly but it was Wolves that had the first real chance of the game, their best of the night half way through the first period. A ball dinked down the middle caught us flat footed at the back and Wallace was clean through on goal but Darlow stood up long enough to put the striker off and got down smartly to smother his effort. The keeper had a good game tonight, commanding his box well and handling everything he had to do competently and his performance gives the boss something to think about, given Sels’ patchy form.
The chance shook us into life a bit and two goals in the space of as many minutes on the half hour mark sewed the game up for us. The first was a very well worked goal as Colback played a deft pass inside the full back for Ritchie to run on to but he still had a lot to do when he cut inside his man and curled a fine effort into the far corner with the keeper planted to the spot. Wolves had barely regrouped when we doubled the lead with our goal of the season so far.
After threatening a screamer against Brighton, Gouffran delivered one this time when he got on the end of a Ritchie cross to crash a volley past a stunned Lonergan. The technique and power of the shot were first class and after being written off at United, the Frenchman is now looking like a key member of the team. Good coaching can work wonders. The visitors looked shell shocked but we didn’t add to our lead in the first period.
We almost did shortly after the break though when Diame collected the ball on the edge of the box. Seemingly with few options, he improvised with a smart chip that had beaten the keeper when it came back off the bar, with Gouffran blazing the rebound well over the bar in front of the goal. Colback, who to be fair had a decent game put a sharp effort just wide from the edge of the box and the keeper was tested with another couple of strikes, whilst at the other end a well timed tackle from Clark in his own box snuffed out a Wolves chance.
With us coasting towards victory, Rafa was able to introduce Atsu, Perez and Lascelles in the last twenty minutes and other than a half chance for their lively substitute, John we won with something to spare at the end. It’s difficult to compare the two games in the past few days due to the sheer amount of changes, but it was good to get back to winning ways with a strong performance. Of the new(ish) boys with few appearances, I thought Yedlin was very good – pacy and did what he had to do defensively. Lazaar improved in the second half after a wobbly start and Murphy led the line well and already looks to have more to his game than Mitrovic. It’s impossible to guess what sort of side we’ll line up with at Villa Park this weekend but hopefully this puts the poor showing on Saturday behind us and it should be an eminently winnable game, but we’ve said that down there before haven’t we?
Next round? The Mackems at home would be nice just now.
Newcastle United – Darlow 7, Yedlin 7, Hanley 7, Clark 7, Lazaar 6, RITCHIE 8 (Lascelles n/a), Shelvey 7, Colback 7, Gouffran 7 (Atsu 6), Diame 6 (Perez 6) , Murphy 6.
Ref – Woolmer – 7 – I can barely think of a foul he had to blow for.
Our Fans – 7 – Plenty lively young ‘uns and a good attendance at this stage of the competition.
Their Fans – 7 – Hats off to the ones that made it to Saturday and tonight.
Keep the Faith
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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