Newcastle beat Oxford United to make it through to the next round of the FA Cup, but they did it the hard way.
The Toon were 2-0 up with 10 minutes left, but late goals from Liam Kelly and Nathan Holland pulled the U’s back to level terms. Steve Bruce’s side then needed Allan Saint-Maximin to score a stunning extra-time strike to see off their League One opponents.
It was a difficult night for a few of the players selected in the starting XI, one of which was Matty Longstaff. The midfielder may be just 19 years of age, but you would expect him to put in a far better display than he did on Tuesday considering he has already made seven Premier League appearances this season.
As a defensive midfielder, he should be solid in the tackle and cover the back four with relative ease against such opposition, but that was not the case here. He may have made three tackles and one interception, but he was dribbled past a huge six times, more than anyone else on the pitch, whilst he prevailed in just six of the 16 ground duels he contested. He also gave away three fouls, more than any other player, too.
Landing just 77% of his attempted passes, none of which were key, it was not the best outing for the youngster, who has been linked with a move to Inter and AC Milan in recent weeks. On this display, that reported interest will soon disappear.
Bruce caused a stir when he admitted on transfer deadline day that the Magpies had made a close to club-record bid for a midfielder – then confirmed to be Boubakary Soumare – and that it was even accepted (the fee was eventually said to be £45m). The 20-year-old decided to stay put, but the intention from the St James’ Park outfit was there.
This display indicates why Bruce and co would be willing to part with such a fee for a player in that position. Clearly, Longstaff isn’t ready to take up that role.