Those old enough to remember Ronnie Radford’s heroics for Hereford United in 1972 will know that “the magic of the FA Cup” rarely works in Newcastle’s favor. This time last year the Magpies were on the end of another giant killing as Cambridge United knocked Newcastle out at the third-round stage.
Eddie Howe made eight changes with Joelinton, Sean Longstaff, and Sven Botman the only survivors from Tuesday’s hard-fought draw at The Emirates against Premier League leader Arsenal.
The changes were telling as Newcastle played loose pass after loose pass, with Sheff Wed pouncing on the majority as Newcastle quickly found out they were in for a long and tough night.
Howe’s side had their chances with the returning Alexander Isak forcing two saves from Cameron Dawson in the first half. It was Wednesday who took the lead early in the second half after some superb play by George Byers and Josh Windass was then on hand to turn Dennis Adeniran’s cross home from close range.
Newcastle should have instantly responded, but Dawson produced a brilliant stop to keep out Elliot Anderson’s effort after a loose ball fell to the Newcastle midfielder eight yards out and then was alert to tip over Jacob Murphy’s swerving shot from distance.
The Owls doubled their lead in the 66th minute, with Windass played in by Michael Smith, and he made no mistake, firing past Martin Dubravka to send Hillsborough wild.
Bruno Guimares pulled a goal back for the visitors from close range following a Kieran Trippier corner. But it wasn’t to be for Newcastle as Chris Wood summed up their evening by blazing over when played through on goal by Joelinton.
Howe cited the lack of squad depth for the defeat.
“We are aware that we don’t have the deepest squad of any team in the Premier League, we are low on numbers but we feel high on quality.”
“Injuries will dictate how stretched you feel. We gave an opportunity to a lot of players that haven’t played a lot of minutes this season, I thought there were positives and negatives within their performances.”
“You pick your team looking ahead to future games. We have a very quick turnaround, late kick-off today and then Leicester on Tuesday (in the Carabao Cup). I felt I saw some fatigue in the lads at Arsenal, it was a great performance, I thought it would be unwise of me to pick the same team for this game and Leicester as well.”
“It was a disappointing result for us, I thought we gave it our all until the end, we created chances to score and we didn’t take them.”
“Their goalkeeper played very well, it was always going to be a difficult game coming here, we needed to get our noses in front and we didn’t and that made it very difficult.”
“We were desperate to win the game and I picked a team that I thought was strong enough to do that at the start of the match and the moments and chances were there for us in the first half to take the lead, we just weren’t clinical in front of goal and that remained all the way through the second half as well.”
Perhaps this defeat is a bit of a wake-up call to Newcastle’s owners. They have a strong starting eleven plus one or two nice players available off the bench but beyond that, the quality just isn’t there.
Obviously, his was always going to be a long rebuild. However, this result may just force Newcastle into spending more than they wanted to this month.