Newcastle beat Leeds, but it wasn't like it used to be

Posted by Marc Duffy

Papiss Cisse kisses the turf after giving Newcastle the lead against Leeds.GettyImagesPapiss Cisse kisses the turf after giving Newcastle the lead against Leeds.

A once-proud and successful club with great history and tradition turned up at St James' Park Wednesday night to play a Capital One Cup tie against Leeds United.

Earlier this week, representatives from Newcastle United attended a Supporters Trust meeting and told those gathered that cups are not the priority. Newcastle haven't won a domestic trophy in 58 years. Despite all of that a healthy crowd of over 36,000 turned up for this one -- a noisy 5,500 representing Leeds. Only the Manchester United's 1-0 home win over Liverpool Wednesday had a bigger crowd in this round.

Not too many years ago, fixtures involving these teams in the Premier League were derby-like. The atmosphere was usually excellent and some fantastic games were served up. Newcastle's 2-0 victory was nothing at all like that.

Leeds are a shadow of the club they once were.

Despite Newcastle's focus on a top-ten league finish, Alan Pardew fielded quite a strong side. But it was the visitors who almost took the lead within the first five minutes when the lively Ross McCormack chipped past Tim Krul, only to see the ball come back off the underside of the crossbar. As it turns out, that was one of the few chances Leeds would have.

Papiss Cisse has been terrible lately and it looked like things were only going to get worse for him when he swung not once but twice with a Matthieu Debuchy cross and failed to connect with the ball either time!

He finally got his first goal of the season though, and for that he will be very relieved. In fact it was his first goal in over 1,000 minutes of football (thanks to @OptaJoe for that stat) with his last goal coming against Benfica in April. It came just after the half-hour mark and was created by Sammy Ameobi -- the best player on the park in the first half. Sammy delivered a fantastic cross and Cisse headed home.

There is always a fear that Pardew half-time talks can lead to a spectacular decline in performance after the break (see Hull last Saturday for the most recent example) but that never looked like happening Wednesday. Leeds didn't have it in their locker.

Even the arrival of pantomime villain El Hadji Diouff didn't spark much. Newcastle doubled their lead within five minutes of him taking the field -- it was a second assist for Sammy and an excellent finish by Yoan Gouffran.

Newcastle defended with ease -- Mike Williamson looked shaky every now and then but that's to be expected since he's barely played any football in a long time. Paul Dummett looked comfortable at left back, although in truth he didn't come up against much.

Cheick Tiote patrolled and dominated the middle of the park whilst the youngest Ameobi constantly looked to take the game to Leeds. They became very wary of him as the game went on.

All in all, it was a routine victory for Newcastle and they reach the fourth round for the first time since they crashed out to Steve Kean's Blackburn a couple of years ago. The fourth-round draw was not kind though -- they'll play Manchester City, but it will be at St James' Park so at least they'll have a fighting chance of reaching their first League Cup quarter-final in seven years.

I wonder if a cup would suddenly become their priority if they manage to do that?

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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