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newcastle 2 – 0 leeds: training day

newcastle 2 – 0 leeds: training day

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Photo by bcafcbh 

Progress in the League Cup is overrated anyway. If you get to the closing stages all you get is Arsenal or Stretford’s youth team, away, or if you’re really unlucky, Bradford at home.

And playing in the Europa League would only have been a distraction next season.

That said, it’s never nice to lose, and that’s three lost in a row; four defeats and two wins from our last six games. We’re still on the right side of the line with more wins that losses in all competitions, but by god I hope we give Millwall, Bournemouth and Derby some good hidings over the next couple of weeks.

Newcastle was always going to be a bit of a mismatch, though. After their standard flirtations with lunacy at the start of the season, which had Geordies threatening to boycott this game because Joe Kinnear or Alan Shearer or something, I dunno, they’ve sorted themselves out a bit by beating Fulham and Villa. 

They’re a Premier League team, while we only should be, and that’s the way of things; that’s why, when their was a hint of some space down our right, Ameobi was able to sprint away and deliver a swerving cross right on to the head of Cisse, before Byram, Wootton or Pearce could do a thing about it. And it’s why, given half a yard to turn in by Pearce, Gouffran was able to swivel and slam the ball into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area. 

You can lament the moments when better players did better things than our players, or you can concentrate on the positives; ninety minutes in the first team for Sam Byram, against considerably tougher opposition than he was getting in the Development Squad; Alex Mowatt has shown his performance at Doncaster wasn’t a fluke, and put himself in line to liven up our midfield at Millwall; McCormack tested Krul early on with a chip that went close enough to justify a wistful what-might-have-been.

Then there’s the 6,000 travelling fans, going up the A1 on a work night and, thanks to the Highways Agency, almost never getting back. Alan Pardew has called the 11 minutes of chanting from both sets of fans in honour of Gary Speed “the highlight of the season”; he didn’t say how he felt about the other 79 minutes of noise from the Leeds end, but Phil Hay noted on Twitter: “The away crowd have been immense tonight. I saw McDermott look at you all and shake his head when he first came out the tunnel. Bewildered.”

He’ll get used to it. Especially if the good points taken from what, now we’ve been knocked out, we can safely call a tournament of glorified training games, are used to inform and improve the team in the three league games before the next international break. Leeds need some goals and need some wins; neither were likely to be had  against Premier League standard opposition at St. James’ Park, but against Millwall-standard oppostion at the New Den? That ought to be a different story.

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