When a team has failed to score in its opening two matches Gillingham are the most accommodating of opponents. Tonight they eased Newcastle United's passage into the third round of the Capital One Cup with their fourth own goal in six matches this embryonic season.
Worryingly for Newcastle manager Alan Pardew that was the only goal his team scored despite dominating possession against their League One opponents. Summer signings Emmanuel Riviere and Siem de Jong were anonymous and Newcastle needed a sharp save from Tim Krul to avoid extra time.
“The scoreline didn't really reflect our dominance, but we've won, that's the most important thing,” said Pardew. “We've put in three solid performances this season and not really had the breaks in front of goal. We're not conceding chances, but there is no doubt we need to improve in forward areas.”
If ever a club's fans were desperate for silverware it is Newcastle's. All that fervour, all that longing and, under John Hall, all those millions, have failed to deliver a trophy since 1969. The Magpies have not even reached the fifth round in either domestic cup since Mike Ashley's takeover seven years ago and, at times, have not appeared interested in doing so.
This time, however, Alan Pardew fielded a strong team, albeit one with six changes from Saturday's goalless draw at Villa Park and, in teenager Rolando Aarons, a full debutant.
The Jamaican-born winger made an immediate impact as he and Gabriel Obertan attacked the space behind Gillingham's wing-backs: the Gills are another team to play three at the back this season, though it is not just because it is fashionable, manager Peter Taylor has long been a fan.
Newcastle may have a reputation as cup failures in recent years but it is more than a decade since they lost to lower league opposition in this competition. There was not much likelihood of that changing once they survived an early, and optimistic penalty shout from Cody MacDonald after a Fabricio Coloccini challenge.
With Obertan enjoying facing youthful League One defenders Newcastle pushed the home team back and their opening goal was no surprise. Obertan wriggled his way through on the right and his cross was turned into his own net by John Egan who, until this summer, was on Sunderland's books.
Stephen Bywater denied Riviere and Aarons before watching in awe and relief as Massadio Haidara's 35-yard fizzer rattled the crossbar. Thus Gills were still in the game in the 70th minute when Krul was finally forced into action, and had to make a very good save from substitute Luke Norris. That, though, was it and the second meeting between the teams ended like the first, in the same competition, at the same stage, in 1977, with Newcastle a goal to the good, albeit an own goal.
Gillingham (3-4-1-2) Bywater; Legge, Egan; Davies; Fish, Hessenthaler, Pritchard (A.Morris, h-t), Hause; Dack; Kedwell (Norris, 65), McDonald (German, 65). Substitutes not used McGlashan, G Morris, Hoyte, Dickenson.
Newcastle (4-2-3-1) Krul; Janmaat, Coloccini, Taylor, Haidara; Sissoko, Abied; Obertan, De Jong (Perez, 67), Aarons (Cabella, 58); Riviere (Gouffran, 85). Substitutes not used Elliot, Anita, Ferreyra, Dummett.
Referee O Langford (West Midlands).Reuse content