Matz Sels delivers apologetic message to Newcastle fans

Newcastle United goalkeeper Matz Sels, right, is beaten by Curtis Nelsons header to put Oxford 2-0 up.
Newcastle United goalkeeper Matz Sels, right, is beaten by Curtis Nelsons header to put Oxford 2-0 up.

Matz Sels says there were NO excuses for Newcastle United’s FA Cup capitulation.

Oxford United beat Rafa Benitez’s side 3-0 at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.

I can understand the supporters. They expect more from the team. No excuses. They had to travel really far to see this game. We need the supporters. They are really important to us. You feel it when they’re behind the team. We have to play better.

Matz Sels

The result was one of the biggest shocks of the day.

Newcastle’s 1,787 travelling vented their anger at the final whistle.

And Sels understood their reaction to the fourth-round defeat.

“I can understand the supporters,” said the goalkeeper.

“They expect more from the team. No excuses.

“They had to travel really far to see this game. We need the supporters.

“They are really important to us. You feel it when they’re behind the team. We have to play better.”

Newcastle created a number of chances – two feel to Aleksandar Mitrovic – in the first half.

But they couldn’t take advantage and Oxford took the lead after the break.

Mitrovic had a penalty saved before the home side took full control of the game.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Sels.

“We knew they would start aggressively. I think we created three big chances in the first half.

“Maybe we had to score, because in football, if you don’t take your chances, you will get a goal against you.”

Sels felt the outcome would have been different had Mitrovic, back from injury, been able to convert his penalty.

“It was maybe a good moment to score, but it’s football,” said Sels.

“It was difficult pitch, and that was maybe an advantage for the home team, but I think we created enough to win this game.”

Sels felt Simon Eastwood, his opposite number, was the man of the match.

“He was maybe the man of the match,” said the 24-year-old.

“He saved the penalty, and also in the first half he made a few good saves.”

Sels also felt Newcastle weren’t helped by the pitch at the Kassam Stadium.

“The pitch was not very good, but that’s not an excuse,” said the Belgium Under-21 international.

“We have to take our chances. We could have won this game.

“First half, I think we played well. After the penalty, we had to come out and go for the goal. We had opportunities.”

Second-placed Newcastle have a home double-header in the Championship this week.

Wednesday night’s home game against Queens Park Rangers is followed by the visit of Steve McClaren’s Derby County to St James’s Park on Saturday.

Newcastle are two points behind leaders Brighton and Hove Albion, who were knocked out of the FA Cup by Lincoln City at the weekend.

“In the beginning there was one objective – to win the league,” said Sels, signed from Gent last summer by Benitez.

“We have to focus on that now.

“We play twice at home, so if we can have two good results, it’s good for the season.”

Meanwhile, Oxford manager Michael Appleton spoke about Eastwood’s penalty save after the game.

“I keep telling him to stand still and wait until the striker actually kicks the ball,” said Appleton.

“The amount of goalkeepers that dive too soon and try to read it is ridiculous.

“If it’s the perfect penalty, and it’s within a foot and a half of the post, then there’s nothing you can do it.

“But I’m a firm believer that if you’re a goalkeeper, and it’s not within a foot and a half of the post, you can get there if you wait until it’s hit.”

On the result, Appleton added: “We’re delighted we’re in the last 16. It’s a fantastic achievement for the club.

“We thought it was on when the second goal went in, but it was the save from the penalty that gave the players more belief than actually going ahead in the game.

“It gave the players a massive belief that it might be their day.”