Allardyce hails Owen and Martins' finishing

August 30, 2007

Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce was indebted to two top-class finishes as Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins combined to dump Barnsley out of the Carling Cup in the second round.

Owen claimed his first competitive goal for the club in more than 20 months when he ran on to Shola Ameobi's excellent pass to fire expertly past keeper Heinz Muller.

But as the battle for places in the club's frontline hots up, Martins came off the bench to wrap up the win in equally impressive style as the Coca-Cola Championship side's stubborn resistance was finally broken.

Allardyce was barely more delighted than watching England boss Steve McClaren as Owen got 83 minutes and a goal under his belt.

He said: 'It was just a case of waiting and being patient and not switching off at the back, and finally the Premier League showed up with the quality you have got to have to play at this level when the goal went in.

'It was a great ball and a fantastic run and a really good finish, and that is normally the only difference between two sides.

'Tonight, it was that move, that pass and that finishing which just knocked the stuffing out of Barnsley, and then of course we finished them off with Oba putting the ball in the bottom corner.'

Allardyce added: 'It was a good victory, we are through to the next round and a clean sheet, which is very, very important indeed.

'I cannot emphasise that enough, it means you are always in the game to win it when you score.'

Owen's intervention came 12 minutes into the second half after Barnsley had comfortably held their hosts before the break, and the Magpies gradually turned the screw until Martins ended the contest with four minutes remaining.

Claudio Cacapa had an impressive first start at the back, where Jose Enrique was handed a debut, and Charles N'Zogbia was the pick of the bunch in midfield.

Allardyce said: 'There were good performances from a few players. Jose looks encouraging. He is not quite there to match-fitness yet, but it was a comfortable performance for his first game.

'Claudio was excellent at the back, and it was very, very important indeed to give Michael and Shola up front match practice.

'Charles N'Zogbia as well. Everybody did their job, but those players did an excellent job.'

The only down-side for Allardyce was the injury which forced Emre's premature departure, although he is hoping that is not too serious as he prepares to welcome Bolton defender Abdoulaye Faye and Marseille's Habib Beye into the fold.

Barnsley boss Simon Davey was proud of his team's battling display as he turned his attention back to the league.

He said: 'I was pleased with the performance. It was a proud dressing room.

'They have come to a massive club and competed with them. But for perhaps a little lack of concentration and a bit of world-class finishing, we lost the game.

'They can hold their heads up high and be proud of what they have done.'