Newcastle United got what they deserved against Oxford United
Always the hard way. Always.
It had been a good week on Tyneside. A dramatic late Premier League comeback against Everton – and two loan signings.
But there was no late FA Cup drama at St James’s Park. Newcastle United are in the fifth-round draw – but so too, deservedly, are Oxford United after a spirited performance in front of a 52,211 crowd.
The League One club held Steve Bruce’s side to a goalless draw at St James’s Park this afternoon, and there’ll be an unwelcome replay at the Kassam Stadium.
A home draw against a lower league club had seemingly given the club an easier route to the fifth round, but nothing, we know, is ever easy for this club.
Head coach Bruce had made five changes for the game, which kicked off hours after news broke of a proposed Saudi-backed takeover. Nabil Bentaleb, signed on loan from Schalke this week, was handed a start alongside Sean Longstaff in midfield. Allan Saint-Maximin, rested for Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, returned to the starting XI.
Newcastle dominated possession, and had a Joelinton penalty claim checked, and rejected, by VAR midway through the first half.
Saint-Maximin forced a save from Simon Eastwood late in the half with a low shot after dribbling to the edge of the box, but chances were few and far between for the home side and the game was goalless at the break.
A bandaged Joelinton – who suffered a head wound early in the game – was patched up again and had his blood-soaked shirt replaced after the restart.
Oxford, organised and disciplined without the ball, continued to make life difficult for Newcastle. They steadily grew in confidence, and threatened on the break when they did win possession.
Karl Darlow did well to deny Marcus Browne, who broke free in the 70th minute. Bruce then replaced Saint-Maximin with Matty Longstaff.
Christian Atsu and Isaac Hayden followed him on to the pitch, but Oxford gave as good as they got. Newcastle simply didn’t do enough.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, S Longstaff (Hayden, 88), Bentaleb (Atsu, 80), Almiron, Saint-Maximin (M Longstaff, 70), Joelinton. Subs not used: Elliot, Fernandez, Sorensen, Allan.