All the acrimony between these two clubs resurfaced last night as Stevenage avenged their contentious replay defeat of 13 years ago in dramatic style, comfortably brushing aside a Newcastle team playing well below their Premier League best and reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of substitute Cheik Tioté.
The League Two side had the better of the first half and made their superiority count in the second through goals by Stacy Long and Michael Bostwick and, following a Joey Barton consolation strike, Peter Winn. It was a wretched evening for the Geordies, whose manager Alan Pardew may not have slept easy last night.
Questions will be asked about the visiting supporters, too, after the Stevenage full-back Scott Laird was punched to the ground by a fan at the end and coins were thrown in the direction of players during the second half. It was a case of a small minority besmirching the name of the good-natured majority. "It is something we will flag up at our meeting on Monday," a Football Association spokesman confirmed.
This was Newcastle's biggest Cup upset since the fabled defeat by Southern League Hereford in 1972. There was a pitch invasion to boot, with jubilant fans lifting their heroes into the Hertfordshire night. Shame about a few idiots spoiling it.
"Laird stood there as a fan came and smashed him from the side," said the Stevenage manager Graham Westley, who didn't want to see his team's efforts overshadowed by events off the pitch. "He took one in the right cheek. Sad to see, of course."
There is something about this fixture. Thirteen years ago this month Giuliano Grazioli scored the goal that cancelled out an early Alan Shearer header to earn a fourth-round replay at St James' Park. It prolonged an ill-tempered tie that had been played out against a backdrop of bickering.
Then Newcastle's manager, a certain Kenny Dalglish, even complained about the balls being too bouncy. With luminaries such as Faustino Asprilla, John Barnes and Stuart Pearce in their ranks alongside Shearer, Newcastle had already beaten Barcelona in the Champions' League, yet it took a controversial goal from Shearer in the replay – centre-half Mark Smith was adamant he had cleared the ball off the line – to separate the teams.
The rancour, as well as the romance, returned at the rebranded Lamex Stadium as Stevenage outplayed a Newcastle side lacking the stardust of their 1998 vintage. Newcastle's latest manager, Pardew, fielded a strong side as the visitors set about ending 56 years of pain in this competition.
They failed to impose themselves at all though. Joey Barton put one chance wide early on, with Stevenage skipper Mark Roberts planting a headed chance straight at Tim Krul in Newcastle's goal and Bostwick having a decent shot well saved.
Pardew replaced Leon Best with Nile Ranger at the interval but within five minutes Newcastle had fallen behind. Long and Laird exchanged passes out on the left flank before Long cut in and let fly with his right foot, the ball beating Krul with the aid of a deflection.
Stevenage poured forward towards the Toon fans in search of more, and got their reward when Bostwick rifled home from outside the area, with Krul again well beaten.
Still they were not done and had a good shout for a penalty when Lawrie Wilson was felled by substitute Tioté but the referee's assistant, despite being well positioned, didn't give it. Suddenly all the acrimony from 1998 resurfaced, with coins thrown by the Newcastle fans and then the idiotic Tioté shown a straight red card for upending Jon Ashton.
Barton struck from distance for Newcastle as time ran down. Winn should have made it three but he slipped his shot wide under pressure from Danny Simpson. However, he made up for that in stoppage time when he lifted the ball over the goalkeeper following a fine pass from John Mousinho.
"We lacked the energy after a long run of games," said Pardew. "It was a very disappointing performance."
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the match: Bostwick
Match rating: 8/10
Attendance: 6,644Reuse content