Newcastle booked their passage into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a ruthless 4-1 win against a defensively inept Rochdale.
In the opening stages Rochdale were happy to sit off and allow Newcastle the lion’s share of possession, but they fashioned the first chance of the game after 5 minutes, with Keohane flashing an effort wide following good aerial work from Wilbraham. This, however, was not a sign of things to come for Rochdale. Almirón was denied the opening goal by courtesy of the right post as Newcastle began to turn their domination of possession into chances, and they soon went ahead. On the 16 minute mark, Ritchie drilled a ball from the left flank across the Rochdale box and Eoghan O’Connell attempted to clear, but could only direct the ball beyond his keeper.
Rochdale’s defensive woes were compounded when Newcastle went 2-0 up just 4 minutes later. Both Williams and O’Connell were dumbfounded by a cross from Ritchie, failing to clear and letting the ball bounce into the feet of Matty Longstaff, who had all the time in the world to take a touch and fire beyond a helpless Sánchez. Although he may have been blameless for Newcastle’s second of the evening, Sanchez soon eclipsed his teammates with perhaps the worst moment of Rochdale’s defensive capitulation. After the away side inexplicably tried to play it out from the back in the face of relentless pressing from Newcastle, Sanchez opted not to punt the ball and instead passed straight to Almiron, who capped his superb first half display with a comfortable finish.
Newcastle were 3-0 up after 25 minutes, having capitalised clinically on the defensive frailties of their opponents. Other than an audacious but unsuccessful effort from Callum Camps to lob Darlow just before the half time whistle, Newcastle continued to control the tie, and they seemed destined to secure their passage to round four with ease.
Brian Barry-Murphy made the brave decision to bring Sánchez off for Lynch at half time, and his team talk certainly seemed to have the desired effect. Rochdale started the second half much more positively, and could have reduced the deficit after 49 minutes when Jimmy Ryan connected sweetly with a headed clearance from Lascelles, but his volleyed effort was just too high.
Lynch went some way to repaying his manager’s faith after a smart save from Isaac Hayden, ensuring his side did not fall further behind. Henderson did strike high and wide after some neat passing from Rochdale on the hour mark, but despite seeing much more of the ball, the visitors were struggling to create clear-cut chances.
The majority of the second half was uninspiring and the game appeared to be destined to finish 3-0, but Joelinton made up for his tepid performance in Newcastle’s 1-1 draw at the Crown Oil Arena on 81 minutes. Tom Allan, who was making his professional debut for the Magpies, drove down the right hand side and played an inviting ball into Joelinton, who timed his run into the box perfectly and steered the ball beyond Lynch.
This prompted some away fans to make for the exits, but those who stayed finally had something to sing about after 85 minutes. A deep corner found Wilbraham unmarked at the back post, and he laid the ball off to MJ Williams on the edge of the box, who fired a low effort through a sea of legs and off the left hand post into the goal. Chants of “we’re going to win 5-4” followed Williams’ effort, but Rochdale made no further indents into Newcastle’s lead, with the game finishing 4-1. Rochdale certainly showed spirit in the second half but their defensive frailty had already lost them the game after 25 minutes, with Newcastle taking advantage of these mistakes to secure a fourth round tie against Oxford United.
Last modified: 15th January 2020