Lovenkrands hat-trick sees off Plymouth's limp challenge

Newcastle United 3 Plymouth Argyle 0
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The Independent Football

Chris Hughton's Chas and Dave dream lives on. The Newcastle manager, part of Tottenham's FA Cup winning side of the Eighties who forged a reputation as much for their collaborations with the Cockney knees-up merchants as for their free-flowing football, has joked how he'd love to see the recently split duo re-form to pen a 2010 final song with a Geordie theme.

Newcastle must, of course, keep their side of the bargain by reaching Wembley for the first time in a decade, but they took a first step towards that goal with consummate ease.

A hat-trick from Peter Lovenkrands – left foot and head from Jonas Gutierrez centres before the break, right foot from a Kevin Nolan cross with 18 minutes left – sealed a second meeting with West Bromwich Albion in five days next week to contest a place in the last 16, although both clubs will attach far more onus to Monday's Championship fixture at St James' between the two promotion rivals.

"It was a win with a good performance, and we came through without any injuries so I'm delighted on all fronts," manager Hughton admitted after his side clocked up a 14th game unbeaten at home this season in front of the lowest domestic senior crowd at St James' Park in almost two decades, a shade under 16,000.

Plymouth made an 880-mile round-trip, but failed to turn up. Hopeful long-distance efforts from Carl Fletcher and Luke Summerfield were contemptuously dealt with by goalkeeper Tim Krul, and were scant reward for the 200 travelling fans who would finally have made it back to Devon shortly before six o'clock this morning.

"I thought the first half was even but the finishing from Newcastle was the difference," manager Paul Mariner conceded. In truth, his side failed to show any of the fight they displayed here in the league in September.

Had Andy Carroll brought his shooting boots, the margin of victory would have been rather more handsome. With an unflustered efficiency, Lovenkrands showed the young pretender how it should be done, with a trio of deft, high-quality finishes.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Krul; R Taylor, S Taylor, Coloccini, Enrique; Pancrate (Guthrie, 70), Nolan, Butt (Ranger, 75), Gutierrez; Lovenkrands (Donaldson, 88), Carroll. Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Ameobi, Tozer, Ferguson, Donaldson.

Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): Larrieu; Duguid, Barker (McNamee, 76), Arnason, Sawyer; Judge (Sheridan, 59), Fletcher, Summerfield, Clark; Fallon, Barnes (Wright-Phillips, 59). Substitutes not used: Saxton (gk), Noone, Gow, Folly.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).