Saturday 18 November 2017

McClaren frustrated as goal-shy Newcastle hit by sucker punch

Watford 1-0 Newcastle Utd

Newcastle United's Manager Steve McClaren. Photo credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Newcastle United's Manager Steve McClaren. Photo credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Cheik Ismael Tiote of Newcastle United battles with Watford's Adlene Guedioura. Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images
Goalscorer Troy Deeney shakes hands with Watford mascot Harry the Hornet after their victory. Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images

James Riach

Newcastle's abject record in this competition under Mike Ashley continues, but more concerning for Steve McClaren will have been his side's ineptitude in front of goal. Watford were second best but it is they who advance to the fourth round, Troy Deeney the difference on an afternoon of severe frustration for Newcastle.

Since Ashley took control of the club they have not progressed past the fourth round of the Cup in nine seasons. McClaren's appetite to end that record was clear, but the afternoon ended with discontent among the travelling supporters who had watched their side lose 1-0 for a fourth successive match.

They had played reasonably well, but were gripped by paralysis whenever a sniff at goal emerged. Florian Thauvin was the subject of the fans' ire late on, some decided to leave before injury time and jeers rang out at the final whistle. Watford were disjointed, but Deeney took his chance while Newcastle squandered theirs.

"Very frustrating," said McClaren, who described the booing as harsh. "One opportunity they had from our mistake and we felt we controlled the game. We came here to win, we came here with a strong team. We couldn't do more than we did, apart from put the ball in the net.

"Everybody is frustrated and angry, I can understand that. Everybody can see the team is not far away from doing something."

McClaren made one change to the team that lost narrowly at Arsenal, Kevin Mbabu coming in for the injured Jack Colback. Quique Sanchez Flores had given a first start to the 20-year-old striker Obbi Oulare, but with Odion Ighalo on the bench they struggled to find cohesion. Newcastle, in contrast, were moving well and threatening regularly.

Georginio Wijnaldum almost squeezed the ball in at the near post with an improvised flick but Heurelho Gomes had read the danger. However, there would have been nothing he could have done had Ayoze Perez hit the target after 27 minutes, Moussa Sissoko driving into the penalty area down the right and pulling the ball back with pace to the Spaniard, who could only sidefoot wide from an excellent position.

Mbabu forced Gomes into a smart save with a powerful drive, before Deeney's sucker punch. Out of nothing, the striker suddenly found himself through on goal following miscommunication in the defence and a dreadful pass from Wijnaldum. Time seemed to stand still for a few seconds, but Deeney demonstrated fine composure to score.

"For us it was the perfect scenario," said Flores. "Newcastle has an amazing team, in the first half they probably had the control of the match."

Oulare was taken off at half-time, Ikechi Anya coming on, while Fabricio Coloccini did not emerge for the second half as a precaution, replaced by Jamaal Lascelles. McClaren's decision to replace Mbabu with Thauvin was booed.

Newcastle have scored just 19 times in the league this season and despite producing some decent football frustration was building. Their lack of confidence in front of goal was evident when Sissoko broke free only to panic and shank his shot. They did not threaten again and when Thauvin limped to the sidelines in the closing minutes the noise from the away end said it all.


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