Football Features

Oxford United 2-3 Newcastle: Saint-Maximin strikes late to prevent FA Cup shock

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:49, 4 February 2020

Newcastle United secured their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup after a 3-2 win over League One side Oxford United.

Sean Longstaff and Joelinton gave Newcastle a two-goal lead at half-time and had the Premier League side seemingly cruising.

But two wonderful late goals from Liam Kelly and Nathan Holland showed Oxford United’s fight and earned the home side an extra 30 minutes to try and cause an upset.

Just when Oxford United looked to be taking the game to penalties, Allan Saint-Maximin won it for Newcastle with a fine solo effort, breaking hearts and setting up a fifth-round tie with West Bromwich Albion.

Magpies’ unbeaten run continues: Key stats from Oxford United 2-3 Newcastle…

  • Newcastle are now unbeaten in eight matches across all competitions.
  • In that time they have won three games and drawn five.
  • The Mapgies also extended their good FA Cup replay record, winning their past five scoring 17 goals.
  • Newcastle have reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2005/06.

Newcastle face interesting question about priorities

Well, Newcastle might have a potentially tricky decision to make.

Steve Bruce’s side currently sit 12th in the Premier League after 25 games but they will still want to keep one eye on the teams below them as the fight against relegation gets tight.

However, they now have a FA Cup fifth round tie to think about. The last time Newcastle were in the fifth round of the FA Cup they went on stage further, reaching the quarter-finals in 2005/06. Do they put their eggs in that basket, focusing on beating Championship side West Bromwich Albion – which is not a guarantee – and hope to give their fans a positive for the season through a cup run?

One potential problem with that is the games that will surround the FA Cup fifth round tie – scheduled for the first midweek in March. On the weekend before Newcastle face Burnley, who currently sit above the Magpies on goal difference, and Southampton who are below on goal difference. Defeats to these two sides could see Newcastle drop back into the relegation fight and further increase the discourse between the board and fans.

Next five confirmed fixtures

16 February 2020: Arsenal vs Newcastle (Premier League)

22 February 2020: Crystal Palace vs Newcastle (Premier League)

29 February 2020: Newcastle vs Burnley (Premier League)

07 March 2020: Southampton vs Newcastle (Premier League)

14 March 2020: Newcastle vs Sheffield United (Competition)

Oxford United’s focus switches to play-off race

Although Oxford United ultimately lost on Tuesday night, their performance is one they can take positives from and build on for the remainder of the season.

At 2-0 down going into the final 10 minutes, no one gave Oxford United a chance but they believed in themselves and took Premier League opponents to penalties. The big thing now for Karl Robinson, however, will be to try and keep that positivity high as his side chase the play-offs.

Oxford United are three points outside the League One play-off places with 17 games remaining but have a very difficult set of fixtures coming up. They play six games before the end of February, featuring every few days, and the opponents aren’t exactly easy. In their next five they face Peterborough, Sunderland and Ipswich who are also fighting for a play-offs place while Burton Albion are also just a few points behind Oxford United. Only Wimbledon represent a team outside the top half of the table but they are currently playing for their safety in the division so may have more reason to be motivated than most.

Next five fixtures

08 February 2020: Peterborough vs Oxford United (League One)

11 February 2020: Burton vs Oxford United (League One)

15 February 2020: Oxford United vs Sunderland (League One)

18 February 2020: Oxford United vs Wimbledon (League One)

22 February 2020: Ipswich vs Oxford United (League One)

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Player in focus: Joelinton

It’s no secret that Joelinton has had a poor season with Newcastle United. The Brazilian became the club’s record signing last summer and it was hoped he would bring the goals to keep Newcastle moving away from the relegation zone, dealing with life under Rafa Benitez.

But in his first 28 games across all competitions he managed two goals, one in the Premier League and another in the FA Cup third round replay. Leading the line for another replay on Tuesday night, Joelinton would have been hoping to have similar luck to potential kickstart his season.

Things started brightly for Joelinton and he was involved in Sean Longstaff’s goal, laying the ball off to the midfielder having initially received it inside the box. Then came a period that summarised by Joelinton and Newcastle’s season as the Brazilian missed a good chance to double the advantage from close range before picking up a knock.

However, he did eventually get a goal, showing pace to beat the defender to a through ball before finishing past the goalkeeper with composure – all while still nursing the knock.

He would eventually succumb to that injury, being replaced by Allan Saint-Maximin, but Newcastle may not feel too worried with a break coming up, instead hoping Joelinton can build on another cup goal.

The rest of Tuesday’s FA Cup action

  • Birmingham 2-2 Coventry (4-1 pens): Birmingham equalised late at the end of normal and extra-time before eventually beating St Andrew’s tenants Coventry on penalties.
  • Cardiff 3-3 Reading (1-4 pens): Reading came from behind twice to beat Cardiff 4-1 on penalties, earning a home tie against Premier League side Sheffield United.
  • Derby 4-2 Northampton: Wayne Rooney was one of four goalscorers for Derby to set up a fifth-round tie against Manchester United.
  • Liverpool 1-0 Shrewsbury: A late own goal from Ro-Shaun Williams was enough to help a very youthful Reds side into the fifth round.