Well Newcastle almost let this one slip away but Allan Saint-Maximin saved fans from the dread of a penalty shoot-out with a late winner tonight. We squandered a two-goal lead and it looked very dire early in extra time but the quality of Saint-Maximin has saved the day.
Newcastle came out unchanged after a comfortable 2-0 first-half. They immediately were on the front foot with Almiron and Saint-Maximin looking very lively as the front two.
Sean Longstaff was also playing high up the pitch in support of the two strikers. Newcastle dominated possession but didn’t create many chances in the first 20 minutes of the half.
Oxford had a few breaks where they were able to play the ball out wide and whip in some dangerous crosses. However, Newcastle’s defense were very disciplined and handled Oxford’s attacks.
Newcastle lost some dominance of the midfield as the tempo of the game dropped a bit midway through the half. Newcastle still defended very well, but Oxford got a few more chances as they made a few changes.
Then the Oxford reply came through an 84th-minute free-kick from substitute Liam Kelly. He struck the ball very well, and Karl Darlow got a hand on the ball but couldn’t keep it out.
The game went back and forth with Miguel Almiron getting a chance right after Kelly’s goal. Then Oxford won a late corner that Karl Darlow initially hesitated on but eventually claimed the ball.
Allan Saint-Maximin made a brilliant move down the left into the box and pulled the ball back to an open Sean Longstaff, who put his shot wide. He should have done better.
Newcastle then brought Isaac Hayden on for Miguel Almiron with just 4 minutes of added time to go. Oxford pushed everyone forward on a late free-kick from deep.
We just didn’t do enough to handle it as the ball found Nathan Holland, who volleyed it past Karl Darlow to send the game to extra time.
With all the momentum on their side, Oxford immediately came on the front foot. To make matters worse, Newcastle had just one forward in Allan Saint-Maximin on the pitch.
Bruce brought Ciaran Clark on for Florian Lejeune at the 96-minute mark and then Christian Atsu for Nabil Bentaleb in the 102nd minute.
Newcastle looked a bit more threatening with Atsu on the pitch as he made a few good runs. To start the second half of extra-time, the 28-year-old did well cutting in from the right and whipping in a shot which was deflected out for a corner.
Newcastle needed a bit of quality and it finally came in the 115th minute. Allan Saint-Maximin maintained possession deep on the left. He cut inside and unleashed a blistering shot to make it 3-2.
The lads made it difficult by not putting this game away and Oxford scored two outstanding goals to force extra time. But we are through to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup to face West Brom.