Football / FA Cup Fourth Round: Thorpe's dream interrupted

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The Independent Online
Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Beardsley pen 65

Luton Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Thorpe 35

Attendance: 32,216

STYLE, flair and all the other good things about football have marked Newcastle United's return to the top level of the English game. Yesterday, they discovered the less-celebrated merits of resilience and hard work. It was not so much dashing Dan Dare as bashing Desperate Dan.

For long enough it looked as though Luton Town might perform the service of expunging Hereford 1972 from the worst nightmares of Newcastle fans and replacing it with their own. Their goal from 19-year- old Tony Thorpe, making his first full appearance, was the sort that dreams are made of. Receiving the ball on the edge of the area he took one look, one pace and drove home a fierce shot past a disbelieving defence and a stately looking goalkeeper.

Under the shrewd management of David Pleat, Luton too are not bereft of some of the finer qualities and with John Dreyer quite monumental early on at the heart of their defence and, indeed, at the heart of many of their attacking moves, a Cup shock would not have been surprising. Falling behind enlivened Newcastle. Three times before the interval they might have equalised but the feeling grows that if either Andy Cole or Peter Beardsley are not on the end of their attacks, no matter how pretty, the ball will not end up in the net. They appear to have the additional drawback of the St James' Park pitch, which their manager Kevin Keegan rightly described as diabolical.

Newcastle dug deep, which pleased Keegan. Their game did not have that familiar flowing feel to it but they created enough holes in the Luton area to suggest that they would be rewarded. Scott Sellars made a run from the left but fired his shot weakly at the American goalkeeper, Guergen Sommer, and then crossed from the left for Cole who failed to control it. A header from Robert Lee which hit the bar, a Cole pass in the area when he might have shot made it seem that it might be one of those days. But Beardsley was upended in the box by Alan Harper - or at least he ended up on the floor - and the penalty was awarded. Beardsley smashed it home with Desperate Dan-like force and Dan Dare-like cool. A draw was probably the fair result.