When the Cardiff substitute Craig Noone was sent on to the field at St James’ Park with 72 minutes gone, he was given a big handshake off his new manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. His side trailed. Within 60 seconds, Noone had smashed a 30-yard shot into the top corner of Rob Elliot’s goal.
There is something compelling about Solskjaer and the substitutes’ bench and his impact gave such obvious mirrors to when he played the game. Then, as a Manchester United substitute, he emerged from a dugout all around Europe to score 28 times.
The equaliser, which cancelled out Papiss Cissé’s close-range strike just past the hour, would have been enough to cap a remarkable start to management, given the current state of Cardiff and their controversial owner Vincent Tan. Solskjaer by the 73rd minute had made a point and changed the narrative.
He had, however, made another substitution, on the hour. He brought on the former Sunderland forward Fraizer Campbell and took off Andreas Cornelius. With 10 minutes remaining, Peter Whittingham sent over a right-wing corner and Campbell rose to head a clever header into the Newcastle goal. A completely forgettable afternoon had been given a Solskjaer stamp on his introduction to management in the British game.
“I tell them, ‘Come on and make an impact,” he said of his substitutes. “I say, ‘You have half an hour to run around and in half an hour you must do as much as the other players have done for 90 minutes.
“The best time you have got is as a player. For me now that time is over. You do really enjoy the moment and today was a fantastic time for us. We have something to build on. It’s not about me but it’s a perfect start for the new times. I think the lads have had a lot to deal with lately. It’s nice for them to start off with a win in the cup. It’s never easy to cup here and play, especially when you go one-nil down. Not many games get turned around up here. The lads showed great character.
“They were two fantastic pieces of skill. It was a great header form Frazier and the goal from Noony was something else. You have 90 minutes to use 14 players.”
That last phrase could have belonged to the manager who used him to such devastating effect during his playing career. In the 10th minute his name was sung by the travelling Cardiff supporters, he responded by doing the Ayatollah, a celebration unique to the club. He did the same after victory had been secured, marching over and raising his arms in triumph and solidarity. Their’s as he said, was a long journey north that will feel shorter on the return.
Campbell had failed to make a pass to Solskjaer during his testimonial in 2008. There was praise from his manager but he conceded he would still not forgive him. “No, no, never!” he joked.
For the home side, it will be another trophyless season. In seven years under the owner Mike Ashley, Newcastle have not progressed beyond the fourth round of either cup competition. They made changes, through injury and a desire to freshen the team up, but it did not work. Hatem Ben Arfa struck the woodwork in each half, but once the second goal from Campbell went in, there was little resolve to find an equaliser, as Alan Pardew admitted.
“We just took our foot of the gas and it was costly,” he said. “They got a goal in that period. It was a set play and we should have defended it better. Of course I am very disappointed. It is a great disappointment to me. I am bemused today. We had more than a strong enough team to win that game. Really and truly only the last period got away from us.
“We want to win trophies here. It’s been a long, long time. We won’t win a trophy going out in the third round. We had a whole new back five today. They played okay but at set plays we looked venerable. That cost us the second goal. That can make the difference.”
Newcastle Utd (4-2-3-1): Elliot; Santon, S Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Haidara; Anita, Tioté; Sissoko (Remy, 85), Ben Arfa, Gouffran (Obertan, 62); Cissé (Ameobi, 85).
Cardiff City (4-2-3-1): Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, John; Whittingham, Gunnarsson; Cowie, Kim (Smith, 79), Odemwingie (Noone, 72); Cornelius (Campbell, 60).
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Man of the match: Campbell (Cardiff)
Match rating: 4/10