Craig Bellamy spared Newcastle's blushes in the second round of the Worthington Cup last night by coming on as a substitute in extra time and scoring a hat-trick in 11 minutes to eliminate a spirited Brentford side.
While the "Toon Army" went home delighted, however, the final scoreline did no justice whatsoever to the match that preceded it and it is debatable which team's manager went home happier with his side's overall performance.
Bobby Robson, whose Newcastle face Manchester United in the Premiership this weekend, must be wondering which one of his teams will turn up for that game – the motley, profligate crew who played for much of the first 90 minutes, or the passing team who aided Bellamy to his treble late in the contest.
Steve Coppell, meanwhile, can take heart that his side fought hard, defended tenaciously, played a lot of neat football, and were only denied a place in the next round by a glaring miss by Lloyd Owusu late in normal time with the scores at 1-1.
Brentford, top of the Second Division, went into the game looking to extend a five matchwinning streak. After the first half, it seemed they might be on course to do it. First Owusu was denied by Steve Harper in a one-on-one that saw the Newcastle goalkeeper leave his box to clear. Then he put the visitors ahead after chesting down a long ball, gliding past Aaron Hughes and slotting neatly past Harper.
Newcastle's only chances of note in the opening period fell to Nolberto Solano, who started despite his off-pitch problems surrounding allegations over a false passport. The first was blasted over in the sixth minute. The second, a chip from the edge of the box, was also too high.
Things improved for Newcastle, but only slightly, in the second half. Perhaps shaken into action by sporadic boos from the crowd, they pressed forward. The equaliser came when Solano ran to the byline and crossed to Shola Ameobi, who scored. Both sides then had chances to seal the win in normal time but Christian Bassedas wasted a free header and Owusu somehow shot wide from a central position inside the six-yard box.
And so to extra time, and on came Bellamy. He had to wait until the 109th minute for his first goal but it was worth the wait. A run down the left was followed by a jink into the box capped with a low, clinical 20-yard finish from the corner of the box.
The Welsh international's second came nine minutes later, after he ran onto a long ball and was composed in finishing. His third was a tap-in from another Solano cross.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Griffin, Hughes (Elliott, h-t), O'Brien, Quinn (Bellamy, 91); Solano, Acuña, Bassedas, Robert; Shearer, Ameobi. Substitutes not used: Given (gk), Lua Lua, McClen.
Brentford (4-4-2): Gottskalksson; Dobson (Williams, 72), Anderson, Powell, Gibbs (Rowlands, 70); Price, Evans, Mahon, Ingimarsson; Owusu, Burgess. Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Theobald, O'Connor.
Referee: R Furnandiz (Doncaster).Reuse content