Thank God it went to plan
4-0, job done. It could have gone much worse, though, so thank the lord that it didn’t!
In all seriousness though I got into half time and I wasn’t sure how the second half would go. Newcastle hadn’t really posed much of a threat but it looked clearly like we were a mish-mash team of fringe players in a system that some of the lads weren’t suited to, and there was a slight concern that the game might be a lot closer than many of us had predicted.
Thankfully, the players came back out after the half time break motivated and we took Newcastle apart in the manner that you’d expect us to do so - though the lead was gained rather fortunately, through an own goal.
You can’t really analyse the performance too much beyond acknowledging that some players who needed minutes got plenty of those, and that we scored some nice goals - Chris Maguire’s was, in particular, very tidy.
The only concerns for me came from Jerome Sinclair and Duncan Watmore, who struggled even against their young opponents. They both need to step up their efforts when given the chances to impress - particularly Watmore, who many are hoping can have a big impact in the second part of the season. Hopefully his injury isn’t a bad one and he can play some part, perhaps from the bench, on Saturday.
Otherwise, let’s just be happy we’re in the hat for the next round.
One step closer to Wembley.
Best two players were teens
Bali Mumba struggled in the early stages of the game but grew as the occasion wore on, to the point where I think he was actually one of the best players on the pitch.
At the age of just 17, Mumba was the youngest man out there last night and was up against a big fella in the Newcastle midfield who initially gave him a hard time, but as time went on Bali grew and started to influence the game positively with his passing and work-rate.
His fellow teen, Benji Kimpioka, entered the game at half time and I think you could argue that his influence changed the game in our favour. He was quick, dominant and made runs that caused Newcastle problems which in turn opened up space for us to exploit.
His persistence was rewarded when he got himself a goal, a header which came as a result of hard work and determination. It’s great to see Benji take his chances whenever he’s brought into the first team; he’s perhaps the next in line to get a chance with Jack Ross in the second half of the season.
Being brutally honest, I’d sooner see us hand these opportunities to him ahead of on-loan Jerome Sinclair - at least he’s our player.
Move on quickly
Now it’s over with we need to move on and forget it ever happened, really.
Newcastle U21s are out, Sunderland are through - job done.
We have a huge game at the weekend against Luton and that has to take priority in our minds, particularly when you consider how much this game could mean for the rest of our season.
We all want to see the lads do well in the Checkatrade Trophy, but it’s clear from Jack Ross’ team selection right through this competition that he’s more inclined to use it as a chance to freshen up his team and give minutes to players that desperately needed them. Luckily, the players are taking it seriously and we’ve been able to progress through it with minimal fuss.
The manager was right in his assessment after the game - it wasn’t an ideal situation but we dealt with it professionally, got the job done and now we can forget all about it.