Stephen Ord with the match report from our Cup win over Bournemouth. Everyone at TRUE FAITH offers every condolence to Stephen and his family on the loss of his Grand-dad tonight. It says a lot about Stephen’s dedication to this fanzine that despite his personal loss he was still able to write our match report as previously planned. 

You can follow Stephen on @smord84

Newcastle United 1 Bournemouth 0, 

20/Dec/22, KO: 19:45, St James’ Park, League Cup Round 4, Att: 51,579.

Well after roughly a month we were back properly, the friendly from Saturday moved on and the real stuff was here. A Tuesday night at 7.45 in December, in a cup game that matters, heady days on Tyneside. Eddie named what was likely his first choice eleven, though Saint Max’s arrival from the bench probably means his knock isn’t as bad as people feared. All the internationals were back and in the team, Callum Wilson leading the line and Bruno back in for Shelvey in midfield. It took an Isak (remember him) penalty to take a point from this opponent earlier in the season and they came with the same tactic – stifle us with a low block, play narrow and look to counter. They packed midfield with Billing acting as their physical presence.

In the first half there was a lot of momentum that built up into Bournemouth’s half, without actually really testing the goalkeeper. A Trippier free kick was fired over the bar, if anything it could have done with being a yard or two further back. The link up between he and Miggy picked up immediately where it left off, Longstaff was trying to be involved to make more triangles.

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For me the biggest issue is we weren’t moving the ball quick enough or being able to break the lines. Joelinton would step inside and beat two or three players but always going sideways and then the ball was laid off. Almiron’s lack of a right foot is making it into match previews for the opposition more often now, any time he got on to his left three people were between him and goal.

The chance he missed was almost inexplicable, the ball was there and then it wasn’t. He was going to tap it in but had no faith in his right foot at all. It was scrambled clear.

Prior to that the ball was in the Gallowgate net through Callum Wilson. This was a peculiar situation and the linesman not flagging, then arguing with Adam Smith (more on him later), then talking to the ref and flagging was so odd. A lot of questions were asked around the reason for no VAR use to check it, but if it was it was brief and then the game carried on. In real time my only thought was the ball must have hit Willock, lying down in the eighteen yard box but Wilson’s finish was smart. He’s not lost form. The team were growing in confidence, the officials looked out of their depth, particularly with the refusal to book Moore for repeated fouls on Bruno.

The second half began as the first finished, United had all of the ball, could spread the play wide if they wished but the concern seemed to be again the final link. We also seemed less keen to shoot from the edge of the box, possibly because of the amount of Bournemouth defenders between the players and goal. The movement of the front three was good, Trippier was getting high up on the right and Burn was trying to balance by staying closer on the left. Bruno got himself into a couple of shooting positions as did Joelinton, but we almost seemed to want to pass the ball into the net.

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Ten minutes into the second half Maxi was off the bench. On Saturday he was at his most frustrating, lots of flicks and lots of rolling around on the floor. Today he looked like he knew he had to come on and play his part. Willock was replaced, Joelinton dropped back in to combat the runners from midfield and Maxi got at the full back Smith. From this point on anytime Smith was left one on one he looked petrified, even at one point heading the ball out of play when there wasn’t a player within six yards in any direction.

The goal was unfortunate for Bournemouth, the ball in was terrific, it had to be dealt with and the desperate lunge to clear the ball off the line was never going to be enough. Newcastle didn’t need to score themselves and the way players rushed to celebrate with Trippier showed that the quality of the delivery had made all the difference.

Pope was soon called into action to make two good saves, one of them actually was outstanding. His ability to work the angles and claim shots as well as move them away from attackers is very far ahead of any other goalkeeper on our books. ASM made a brilliant line break and squared it to Chris Wood who managed to almost plant the ball into the lake in Leazes Park, I’ll be kind and say the offside flag was already raised. But it was really poor.

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Murphy got in as well but the flag again went up. Five minutes of added time were successfully dealt with and the Mags were in the quarter finals. Not at their free flowing best but still in all competitions for the start of the new year, I’d love to know the last time that happened. Eddie’s Mags are back and the chant of Tell me Ma was ringing out by the final whistle. Wembley here we come … we hope.

If you’ll indulge me here for a moment, at the final whistle I became aware my Grandad had passed away ten minutes before kick off. The signal in the ground isn’t great so texts and calls hadn’t come through. He was a Newcastle fan who told me stories of Milburn and the 50s Cup teams, keeping tickets and programmes for some of them. So rest in peace Tom Ord, a brilliant man and a great person, I hope I’ll have some amazing Newcastle stories to tell my grandkids in my nineties.

Stephen Ord @smord84