EMO and Oba down Tykes
In a pleasant twist (which makes a total change for NUFC), Big Sam`s Tyneside cup debut ended in smiles all round as we eased past Barnsley last night. Fielding a fantastically strong side for the 30,000 in attendance, goals from the big hitters up front ensured that we`ll all be watching Jeff Stelling with interest on Saturday lunchtime as the draw for the third round takes place. Encouragement came from a number of quarters, which will crop up later.
Lining up with the favoured formation, Sam handed recalls to Shay, EMO, Emre Shola and Nobby and full debuts to Jose Enrique and Cacapa. Only the Zog, Stevie T, Smithy and Geremi survived from the 2-2 down at the Hossam Mido Memorial Stadium.
In the first half there were chances for Owen, feeling his way back into the game, the Zog and Nobby, who shot just wide from 35 yards. Barnsley also threatened from a laced free kick, dealt with well by Shay. Overall the pace of the game reflected little more than an open training session as the Kes Crew offered little.
The second half saw Owen net within 15 minutes of the restart, latching on to a great ball by the Big Sho and slotting home. With Kozluk then clattering the post from a looping cross, Martins put the game out of sight with a well taken acrobatic finish. Cue some circus tumbling in front of the Gallowgate and everyone went home happy.
So what do we make of it? On a personal level, without being demeaning to Barnsley, it looked like something you might see at Little Benton. The majority of the players barely broke sweat, the passing was decent and the opposition willing enough to let us do it. Compared to the uncomfortable evenings that were Barnsley and Bradford in recent times in this competition, it was a welcome relief to have a night where nails remained uneaten.
Cacapa looked a class act, cool and composed, whilst Enrique looked to have enjoyed his first outing. Obviously the goals for Oba and Owen were bonuses and helps shift the media spotlight away from any unwanted records in that department. Job done, everyone reasonably pleased, including the gaffer and the owner. Well - almost everyone. The disappearance of Emre again with probably a reoccurrence of his ankle injury just takes the piss. No doubt he`ll be fit to play in Turkey`s double header next week though…