LONDON, January 4: Newcastle’s wretched record in the FA Cup continued as 40-year-old Aaron Wilbraham gave minnows Rochdale a 1-1 draw in Saturday’s third round clash.
Magpies boss Steve Bruce had declared his determination not to lose to “bloody Rochdale” as he eyed a sustained Cup run for a club that hasn’t won the competition since 1955 and last reached the final in 1999.
But Newcastle’s FA Cup form is so bad that they have not gone beyond the fourth round for 13 years.
A succession of Newcastle managers have refused to take the competition seriously, sending out weak teams as they prioritised Premier League survival.
And once again they endured embarrassment as Rochdale, who took Tottenham to a fifth round replay in 2018, recovered from Miguel Almiron’s opener to earn a replay at St James’ Park later in January thanks to a late leveller from old stager Wilbraham.
Despite dealing with a raft of injuries, Bruce, a three-time FA Cup winner with Manchester United, picked six players who started Wednesday’s Premier League loss to Leicester.
Almiron was one of the hold-overs and the Paraguayan midfielder opened the scoring with a fierce drive into the top corner from Christian Atsu’s 17th minute pass.
It was only Almiron’s second Newcastle goal since his January move from Atlanta United after he broke his duck against Crystal Palace on December 21.
Newcastle were on top and should have scored again when DeAndre Yedlin picked out Yoshinori Muto, but his shot was too close to goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
In need of a lift, Rochdale, sitting 18th in League One, opted for experience over the promise of youth at half-time when they sent on Wilbraham to replace 16-year-old Kwadwo Baah.
The change revived Rochdale and Martin Dubravka had to make a good save to deny Oliver Rathbone before Ian Henderson hit the woodwork from close-range. (AFP)
Newcastle were looking increasingly nervous and Rochdale deservedly equalised in the 79th minute.
In the 674th game of his journeyman career, Wilbraham bagged only his second goal in the FA Cup with a close-range finish from 17-year-old Luke Matheson’s cross.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche made eight changes against third tier Peterborough and the stands-in took their chance in a 4-2 win at Turf Moor.
Jay Rodriguez put the Premier League side ahead in the eighth minute and Erik Pieters doubled the lead for his first ever Burnley goal seven minutes later.
Jeff Hendrick’s shot went in on off Mark Beavers to make it three in the 23rd minute before Ivan Toney reduced the deficit in the 39th minute.
Rodriguez’s confident finish in the 52nd minute ensured Burnley, who haven’t won the Cup since 1914 and last made the final in 1962, remain on the road to Wembley despite Ricky Jade-Jones’ 76th minute reply.
Elsewhere in the day’s early third round action, 2004 FA Cup runners-up Millwall beat fourth tier Newport 3-0 and Championship side Bristol City were held to a 1-1 home draw by League One outfit Shrewsbury.
FA Cup holders Manchester City host Port Vale later on Saturday, while troubled Manchester United travel to Wolves looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s quarter-final exit at Molineux. (AFP)