Newcastle have bowed out of the FA Cup after a disappointing evening. The lads followed up a timid first half with an improved display in the second, giving them a chance. But ultimately, Manchester City were too much for the Magpies.
Even so, it was two key events that stand out as nails in our FA Cup coffin. The first was an unnecessary push from Fabian Schar on Gabriel Jesus in the box resulting in a penalty.
Here’s what Steve Bruce had to say about the penalty as published by the Northern Echo:
“He’ll be disappointed and frustrated. Of course, he has to burden that – it’s a mistake, a blatant mistake. I don’t know why, but that’s what happens in football.
“The one thing you need when you’re playing against Man City is for your defenders to be concentrating, and concentration was key to it. When I look back on it now, it was a poor challenge that he didn’t have to make.”
The second incident that proved costly was Dwight Gayle’s point-blank miss just minutes after coming on. Allan Saint-Maximin did brilliantly to get Dwight the ball, but what should have been a tap in was sent over the crossbar.
As it so often happens, Manchester City put the game away just minutes later through Raheem Sterling. What might have been had Gayle sunk his golden chance?
There’s a lot to rue for how different it all could have gone had the circumstances not been so extreme. For one, Newcastle were without the backing of the home crowd to cheer them on.
Bruce reflected on how big of a miss having a full St James Park was for his team:
“It’s bad enough playing Manchester City anyway. But there’s no doubt it’s even harder without 52,000 mad Geordies shouting their heads off to give us some encouragement.
“There’s no question that we wanted and needed that. Had this game been taking place normally at half-past-six on a Sunday night, it would have been terrific.
“It wasn’t to be, and when you’re playing against these teams, you really need your crowd to give you a lift. We’re unique here, and it would have been a marvelous occasion.
“It’s not the case, and supporters or no supporters, we were too passive in our first-half approach. We were better in the second half and made it a cup tie, and it would have been interesting if we had taken that big chance (from Gayle), which you have to take when you play against these big teams.”
It just wasn’t meant to be once again. Now it’s on to another big match at Bournemouth, who like Aston Villa last Wednesday, are in a fight for their Premier League lives.
On a positive note, Steve Bruce has confirmed that local lad Mark Gillespie will join Newcastle this summer as a free agent.
“I think it’s been signed in the last 24 hours. We’re delighted to have him on board. He was here as a youngster, went away and played some games, and we welcome him back.”