Kitson quick to mine Cole seam : FOOTBALL

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The Independent Online
Newcastle United 3

Kitson 41, 46, 72

Swansea City 0

THE MEMORY of Andy Cole is already fading fast on Tyneside. Paul Kitson's sparkling hat-trick which, on another day, might have been five or six, had all the hallmarks of a natural goal-poacher and his sprightly awareness inside the box was simply too much for the Second Division side to handle.

The Newcastle fans are beginning to appreciate that Kitson differs from Cole in his capacity to create space outside the area. Swansea played into his hands by defending deeply, allowing Kitson time and space to collect and distribute the ball before attacking the box.

Yet the pattern of the tie could have been very different had Swansea profited from their early pressure. It was the classic Cup scenario with the Premiership side needing a scare to spark them into life.

Perhaps that fright came too early for Swansea - when Martin Hayes, the former Arsenal and Celtic player, was played clean through after just 30 seconds. His tame shot dribbled into Pavel Srnicek's arms but the Newcastle goalkeeper was tested again minutes later by a header by Steve Torpey.

The native North-easterner John Cornforth orchestrated the Swansea midfield, and his supply to the winger John Hodge troubled the full-back Robbie Elliott. The visitors' imposing defence held firm initially but gradually the home side's nerves began to ebb and their customary slick attacking play became more evident. Swansea found themselves often hurriedly forced to seek the respite of Torpey.

A Kitson volley flashed wide, Keith Gillespie dazzled intermittently and the first goal came when Peter Beardsley drove a flat cross from wide on the right, Kitson beating the advancing Roger Freestone to glance his header into an empty goal.

Srnicek parried superbly seconds before the interval which was used by Kevin Keegan to deliver some home truths, feeling a one-goal lead flattered his men.

This became evident as Swansea were stunned again in the early seconds of the second half when Kitson bravely beat a despairing defender to head home a Marc Hottiger cross. That goal effectively killed the game, but the best was to come from Kitson and Newcastle.

Beardsley, who had been strangely silent in the first 45 minutes, suddenly sprang to life but wasted Kitson's freedom in his effort to conjure up the spectacular. However, Swansea were beginning to realise that their dreams were not to materialise and tetchy bickering greeted more wayward passing.

Cornforth drifted out of the game and, as a direct result, so too did Hayes and Hodge on the flanks. The home side countered as the game drew to a close, but Kitson's remarkable third was still in store.

Ruel Fox found Kitson unmarked in the area, Freestone again charged, but the striker lobbed Swansea's keeper with the outside of the foot after calmly chesting the ball down.

Frank Burrows, the Swansea manager, saved little sentimentality for the man who used to clean his boots at Scunthorpe - Kevin Keegan. "I wish them all the best for the next round but no more than anyone else who has just given me a hammering.

"My younger players are a game older and when they come up against such good players, something should rub off. Those good players relaxed after the second goal and they had us chasing shadows," he said.