Newcastle United reached the FA Cup 4th Round for successive seasons for the first time since 2006, after beating League Two leaders Luton Town.
The division in quality between both teams was clear from the first whistle, as Newcastle United pressed Luton Town’s vulnerable defence. Luton goalkeeper Marek Stech went from hero to zero in an instant, after pulling off a magical save to thwart Jacob Murphy and then spilling Manquillo’s free-kick to gift Newcastle the lead twenty minutes later.
Newcastle United scored three goals in just nine minutes to seal the victory and secure their place in the 4th Round. Stech spilled Manquillo’s free-kick directly into the path of Ayoze Perez, who forcefully scrambled the ball over the line on the half-hour mark.
Ayoze Perez doubled his tally and Newcastle’s lead three minutes later. He flicked Ritchie’s cross on at the near post, Gayle was denied by Stech but Perez was alert to the rebound and converted from point-blank range.
England international Jonjo Shelvey scored the pick of the bunch with a crisp finish to extend the magpies’ lead to three. Perez was involved once again with a marauding run through the centre, he provided an incisive pass into the box for Gayle, who delicately assisted Shelvey to calmly place the ball past the hapless Marek Stech.
Luton Town found a route back into the tie when Danny Hylton converted just four minutes into the second half. Glen Rea launched a clearance into Newcastle’s half but the ball eluded the entire defence and Hylton showed the initiative to latch onto his ball and shape a one-on-one scenario. Woodman naively rushed from his goal line in an attempt to intercept but Hylton remained composed, rounded the goalkeeper and dispatched the ball into the net.
Newcastle United took their foot off the gas in the second half and Luton Town attempted to hurl themselves into the match. Hylton was abruptly denied a moment of ecstasy when the linesman raised his flag on the touchline.
The League Two leaders increased the pressure in the final third, by throwing on Elliot Lee from the bench. He nearly made an immediate impact but his swerving free-kick cannoned off the woodwork.
It proved too late for Luton Town to salvage a replay but their determination and relentless was highly admirable. Shinnie worked the ball onto his left foot and forced another top class save from Woodman but the gap between both sides was clear.
How Luton Town Shot Themselves in the Foot?
Luton Town showed too much respect to their Premier League opponents by starting with a defensive set-up. They retreated to deep positions on numerous occasions to weather the storm of Newcastle chances but this instead invited the magpies to cause more havoc in the final third.
They are the record goal scorers in League Two this season and should’ve implemented their general attacking style. Instead, they played to Newcastle’s strengths by allowing them to stream forward in numbers, rather than playing to their own strengths.
It was clear that once they applied more players forward, Luton improved significantly and caused issues for Newcastle United’s defence. Danny Hylton acted as the target man and was unfortunate only to have scored once.
Shinnie and Hylton combined on numerous occasions in the final third and the introduction of Elliot Lee gave them more options in the attack. Unfortunately, it was too late for them to force a miraculous fightback but they can take positives from their second half performance.