Newcastle United edged their way into the last 16 of the Carabao Cup following a nervy climax against Crystal Palace at St James’ Park on Wednesday evening, with Eddie Howe’s side forced to rely on the lottery of a penalty shootout following what was a rather drab encounter on the night.
After a rather uneventful 90 minutes of action, the Magpies were then thankful for the goalkeeping heroics of Nick Pope to secure progression into the next round, with the decision to start the club’s undisputed number-one having more than paid off for the hosts.
The towering Englishman produced three spot-kick saves to help seal the win and also to help bail his teammates out of trouble, with the typically reliable substitute pairing of Bruno Guimaraes and Sven Botman both squandering their penalty attempts.
As it is, the Tynesiders are now another step closer towards ending their lengthy trophy drought, with that shootout triumph epitomising the club’s resurgence during Howe’s year in charge, with the northeast side having notably lost on penalties to Burnley in the second round just over 12 months ago.
For all the obvious relief regarding the end result, there may well be potential concern that the hosts were not able to produce a better performance in normal time, with the numerous changes having seemingly not paid off on the night.
One man who somewhat underwhelmed was academy graduate Elliot Anderson, with the 20-year-old having failed to truly make his mark on what was a “big opportunity” to impress, in the words of journalist Mark Carruthers.
While an undoubtedly talented asset who will seemingly have a big part to play for the club in the years to come – having previously earned comparisons to Newcastle legend Peter Beardsley – it simply wasn’t the Scotland youth international’s night as he struggled in his attacking berth.
On what was just the youngster’s second start for the club at senior level – having featured against Tranmere Rovers in the previous round – Anderson notably lost possession 15 times in his 78-minute outing, while his tally of 15 passes was fewer than the aforementioned Pope (21).
Equally, in a defensive sense, the exciting ace also won just one of his eight ground duels – albeit while winning four of his five aerial duels – while his match rating of 6.3, as per SofaScore, was the joint-second worst of any of his teammates on the day.
Newcastle World’s Jordan Cronin stated that it may well have simply been a case of the starlet ‘trying too hard at times‘, having failed to showcase the talent that was evident during his loan spell at Bristol Rovers last term, where the 5 foot 10 ace provided 13 goal involvements in 21 League Two outings.
Such a frustrating performance may well be something of a setback for Anderson, although the hope will be that the Whitley Bay-born sensation can only learn from that outing and improve moving forward.