Newcastle Club Focus – No FA Cup magic for dispirited Magpies

Newcastle United’s long awaited search for silverware will continue for another season as they were on the receiving end of another cup upset. A 1-0 defeat at Brighton means that Newcastle once again have nothing other than league positions to play for.

Despite manager Alan Pardew prioritising the cup and fielding the strongest team available to him his side were on the receiving end of a giant killing for the second year running. While this was not quite as humiliating as the loss to then League Two Stevenage the defeat could take some time to get over.

In truth the Magpies did not play badly although they were still a long way from the team that have impressed so often in league competition. They created a number of decent goalscoring opportunities which were not taken with Leon Best the biggest culprit. The goal that was conceded was down to a massive deflection from defender Mike Williamson and was the home side’s only effort on target. Newcastle were also denied what appeared a clear penalty late in the second half that may have led to a second bite of the cherry. The Magpies have had little fortune in cup competitions of late although with a trip to Anfield the reward for Brighton they may feel relieved to be out given their poor record on Merseyside.

After the game Alan Pardew was left to rue his team’s lack of quality in the final third of the pitch. It will be a relief that his duo of Senegalese strikers will soon be available for selection with Best and Shola Ameobi struggling to come up with much of a threat in the past two games. “I felt we weren’t threatening their goal enough. They defended well, Brighton, to be fair to them,” Pardew told ESPN. “We had a good grip of the game (in the first half), we felt comfortable. We just struggled to get more shots on goal, to get more chances.”

It appears that Alan Smith has played his last game for the club after the midfielder joined MK Dons on a loan deal until the end of the season. The former Leeds star has made only two substitute appearances this campaign with Pardew preferring youngsters over the 31 year old for back-up. Smith’s contract expires in the summer and is one of the few big earners still remaining at the club. Newcastle will pay a high proportion of Smith’s reputed £60,000 a week wages over the course of his loan deal.

Newcastle return to action on Wednesday night when they travel to the North-West to play Blackburn Rovers. The Magpies have now lost two games in a row while Blackburn are starting to show signs of improvement. Captain Fabricio Coloccini may return after missing the Brighton game with a slight injury. The two Dembas – Ba and Cisse – may feature depending on their condition when they return from Africa. Cheik Tiote will remain on the continent longer after the Ivory Coast successfully made it through the group stages.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Blackburn v Newcastle

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