Rotherham United. . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
AS expected, Newcastle United booked themselves a lucrative FA Cup fifth- round engagement at Blackburn a week on Saturday, but not before Second Division Rotherham had given them a fright before a crowd of 29,005 at St James' Park last night in a fourth-round replay.
After a dreadful first half Newcastle were more like their old selves after the interval and deservedly won through two excellent goals scored by David Kelly, shortly after half-time, and Lee Clark in the dying seconds.
This was Newcastle's 42nd game of the season and it showed. There was a lack of sparkle about their play and their close-passing game repeatedly broke down against Rotherham's quick tackling and hustling.
The Yorkshire side, showing no signs of inferiority, twice came close to taking the lead. After 21 minutes Shaun Goodwin struck a dangerous low shot which Pavel Srnicek went down smartly to save at his near post.
It was probably Newcastle's worst opening half this season and they left the field to the rare sound of cat-calls and booing.
But they moved up a gear after the interval and took the lead after 50 minutes through Kelly, who lashed the ball low into the net after Paul Bracewell and John Beresford had opened up the Rotherham defence.
At last the home fans had found their voice and Rotherham, for the first time, began to look nervous. Their keeper, Billy Mercer, had to move swiftly to the edge of his area to pluck the ball from Kelly's head as the United striker went in search of another goal.
Brian Kilcline, who had replaced the injured Stephen Howey shortly before half-time, was using his considerable weight and experience at the back whenever Rotherham counter-attacked. One robust shoulder charge sent the well-built Shaun Goater sprawling, much to the delight of the home supporters, whose good humour had been restored by Kelly's strike.
United put the result beyond doubt when Clark waltzed through the Rotherham defence to score a fine solo goal a minute from time.
Newcastle United: Srnicek; Venison, Beresford, O'Brien, Scott, Howey (Kilcline, 44), Lee, Peacock (Sheedy, 87), Kelly, Clark, Bracewell.
Rotherham United: Mercer; Pickering, Hutchings, Banks, Johnson, Law (Richardson, 85), Wilder, Goodwin, Howard, Goater, Barrick. Substitute not used: Hazel.
Referee: D Axcell (Southend).