Middlesbrough. . . . 0
WHATEVER the competition's new tag, this was cup-tie football of the famous old Newcastle label. Strong, frothy stuff this Coca-Cola product was too, even by Gallowgate's current standard, although the outcome was not entirely to the taste of the fanatical 25,000 crowd, who saw their side dominate without gaining the advantage their enterprise merited.
For the chance to recommence battle at Ayresome Park on level terms, Middlesbrough are hugely indebted to an inspired performance by their third-choice goalkeeper, Ian Ironside, and to Millwall, whose refusal to let on- loan Brian Horne play gave Ironside his chance.
In terms of its commitment and excitement the game lived up to its derby billing. The inclusion of Robert Lee, signed cheekily by United on Monday after Boro had courted him all last week, added a distinct edge to the already intense rivalry.
So it was, after Tommy Wright's cross shot had given home fans an early scare, that Newcastle tore ferociously back in a spell which would have given them the lead had Jimmy Phillips not headed Mick Quinn's shot off the line and Ironside not brilliantly touched David Kelly's header on to the bar.
Having caught their breath, Boro began to assemble their own attacking skills and it took two well-timed tackles from Barry Venison to halt Wright's progress, although Steven Howey's lunge on Paul Wilkinson soon after was so late it was nearly posthumous.
However, a glaring loss in concentration by Ironside, who caught a back-pass straight after the break, almost gave Newcastle the goal they deserved. Luckily for the visitors, Kevin Sheedy's eight-yard free-kick was blocked and O'Brien blasted the loose ball over.
Newcastle United: Wright; Venison, Beresford, O'Brien, Scott, Howey, Lee (Carr, 72), Quinn, Kelly, Clark, Sheedy. Substitute not used: Brock.
Middlesborough: Ironside; Morris, Phillips, Kernaghan, Whyte, Pollock, Hendrie, Falconer (Slaven, 56), Wilkinson, Wright, Mustoe. Substitute not used: Gittens.
Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).