Yesterday Newcastle suffered an embarrassing defeat to League One side Oxford United. Goals from Hemmings, Nelson and Martinez Lopez helped Oxford to victory with Mitrovic missing a penalty.
Rafa Benitez fielded a significantly weaker side compared to the side that beat Rotherham 4-0. Newcastle played a team consisting of Matz Sels, Jesus Gamez (returning from injury), Grant Hanley, Achraf Lazaar, Massadio Haidara, Curtis Good, Isaac Hayden, Daniel Barlaser, Yasin Ben El-Mhanni, Ayoze Perez and Aleksander Mitrovic. Only Perez and Hayden retained their spots from last weekend.
Oxford’s Grant Hall almost opened the scoring 30 minutes in when his shot was saved by Sels. El-Mhanni cracked off a shot from long range but keeper Eastwood pushed the ball out of play. Mitrovic could’ve scored first but couldn’t beat the keeper, foreshadowing a poor day up front for him. Eventually, the deadlock was broken a minute after the restart when Hemmings knocked in a header from Dunkley leaving Sels no chance.
Mitrovic was gifted a perfect opportunity to level the score when he was awarded a penalty after being brought down in the box. Unfortunately, Mitrovic shot right at the keeper and the ball fizzled out of play which summed up Newcastle’s day. Oxford then doubled their lead after Nelson turned in a header that Sels flapped at. Could Sels have done better? I think so. Just to add insult to injury, Oxford scored another header to cap off an awful performance.
This result has created a lot of tension between Newcastle supporters. Some are distraught at the poor performance and some are remaining positive. I for one am staying performance, let me remind you that Rafa played a 2nd/3rd rate team not the first team. Plus next month we play seven matches including a trip to Brighton which is crucial for our season. Being in the cup would put unnecessary strain on our side which would throw our ambitions to win the league/gain promotion into contention. Being knocked out of the cup could end up being a blessing in disguise but only time will tell.