Newcastle 3 – Birmingham 1: Magpies hope to end fourth round voodoo against Oxford
NEWCASTLE’S road to Wembley usually heads down a cul-de-sac in January but after years of knockout neglect under Mike Ashley, they’re finally showing signs of being up for the cup thanks to Yoan Gouffran and Matt Ritchie.
22:15, Wed, Jan 18, 2017
| UPDATED: 22:21, Wed, Jan 18, 2017
Newcastle have never progressed past the fourth round under Mike Ashley
In the decade since the Sports Direct billionaire took over at St James’ Park, the team hasn’t progressed beyond the fourth round, and it was back in 2006 when they last featured in a tie beyond the first month of the year.
After sealing a trip to League One Oxford in the last 32, that abject record could be about to change as they eased past Birmingham thanks to two goals from Ritchie and another from Gouffran on his 100th start for the club.
But it was Jonjo Shelvey who pulled the strings on his return from an enforced month off.
Gianfranco Zola was part of the Chelsea side to beat Newcastle an the FA Cup semi-final 17 years ago en route to lifting the trophy for the second time in his career. However, the Italian continues struggle after controversially replacing Gary Rowett last month and has yet to win in seven games.
Gouffran played a big role as Newcastle took a ninth-minute lead, keeper Adam Legzdins escaping with a caution for bringing the Frenchman down in the area as he raced onto a through ball from skipper Shelvey. Ritchie fired home the penalty for his sevnth of the season.
Yoan Gouffran scored on his 100th start for the club
Viv Solomon-Otabor and David Cotterill both went close for the Blues but Shelvey then forced Legzdins into a hurried save with a 30-yard effort.
Cotterill went close again but it acted only to sting the Geordies into action, Gouffran’s flick from Achraf Lazaar’s cross bouncing back off the post with Legzdins beaten.
Gouffran gave Newcastle breathing space with second goal in the 34th minute.
From Shelvey’s free-kick into the box, he flicked the ball over his shoulder and found the bottom corner.
Ritchie almost made it three when his angled drive struck a post. Birmingham enjoyed more of the ball after the break but Newcastle remained a threat on the counter-attack, and only fine saves from Legzdins denied Ritchie and Lazaar.
The visitors gave themselves hope when David Cotterill cut the deficit from close range after a Lukas Jutkiewicz knock-down with 20 minutes left.
Then substitute Jutkiewicz headed over from Cotterill’s free-kick before the home side finally sealed victory with a third when Shelvey set up Ritchie for an easy tap-in.
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Sels; Yedlin (Hayden 75), Hanley, Findlay, Lazaar; Tiote, Shelvey; Ritchie, Barlaser, El-Mhanni (Perez 70); Gouffran. Booked: Tiote (Colback 82). Goals: Ritchie 9 pen, 90 Gouffran 35.
Birmingham (4-2-3-1): Legzdins; Dacres-Cogley, Shotton, Robinson, Grounds; Kieftenbeld (Fabbrini 80), Tesche; Cotterill, Davis (Brown 64), Adams; Solomon-Otabor (Jutkiewicz 64). Booked: Legzdins, Shotton, Grounds. Goal: Cotterill 71.
Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire).
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