New­cas­tle held by min­nows Rochdale

The Punch - - SPORTS -

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.

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