Smith own goal hands Newcastle win over Bournemouth in Carabao Cup | Carabao Cup

Shortly after Adam Smith’s own goal gave Newcastle the lead, the Gallowgate End broke into a brief chorus of “We’re going to Wemberlee” but it was strangely half-hearted and soon died in the cool Tyneside night air.

By the final whistle Eddie Howe’s side had made it to the quarter-finals but the overall stodginess of the performance explained their fans’ unusual lack of animation. It seems there is still some considerable warming up to be done before they visit Leicester on Premier League business on Boxing Day.

“We weren’t at our fluent best but we’ll be better for that game,” said Howe. “We needed competitive action. Bournemouth made it difficult for us, they were very deep and compact and, to a certain extent we played into their hands but part of the reason we struggled to break them down was simply due to not playing together for a while. We know there’s a lot more to come from our team.”

One Newcastle player exempt from ring rustiness was Sven Botman who excelled at centre-half, handling Bournemouth’s dangerous Wales striker Kieffer Moore superbly throughout.

Avoiding relegation remains Gary O’Neil’s priority but that did not prevent him marking his first game as Bournemouth’s permanent manager by naming a strong side. O’Neil’s only problem was that Howe’s starting XI was similarly packed with regular first choices including a quintet of players recently returned from the World Cup.

While Callum Wilson, Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope, Bruno Guimarães and Fabian Schär spent part of the last five weeks in Qatar the rest of Newcastle’s squad have recently returned from a warm weather training camp in Saudi Arabia. Maybe their sluggish start had something to do with the shock of being plunged back into a chill north-east winter? Perhaps everyone was simply defrosting?

The excitement fueled by Newcastle’s rise to third in the top tier allied to a rare cup run, dictated that the “sold out” signs went up at St James’ Park three weeks ago but a near full house had little to cheer until the 26th minute when Wilson’s shot evaded Mark Travers.

With a very late linesman’s flag signaling a contentious offside against a prone Joe Willock the applause proved shortlived as that effort was disallowed.

Newcastle players celebrate after being gifted their winner. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images

Wilson’s attacking partner Miguel Almirón should have scored as half-time beckoned but a forward who could not stop scoring before the World Cup somehow missed from close range following Dan Burn’s stellar overlap.

Howe’s side at least succeeded in upping the second-half tempo. Maybe the virus which had ripped through O’Neil’s squad was taking its toll but, with Botman consistently second-guessing Moore and company, Bournemouth ran out of ideas.

Yet for all Newcastle’s possession they lacked penalty-area sharpness and very nearly paid for it as Moore’s menacing diving header swerved narrowly wide following Smith’s fine cross.

Shortly afterwards Smith’s head sunk into his hands after his own goal changed the narrative. It originated with a typically impressive right-wing cross whipped in by Trippier and, although that delivery was intended for Wilson, Bournemouth’s captain ended up doing the striker’s job for him.


Adams double sees Saints progress


Che Adams scored twice as Southampton marked Nathan Jones’ first home match as manager by scraping into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Lincoln.
Top scorer Adams struck either side of half-time to spare Saints blushes after the Imps threatened an upset following Gavin Bazunu’s early own goal.
The lacklustre hosts labored for much of a forgettable fourth-round tie at a sparsely-populated St Mary’s, leaving Jones with plenty to ponder as he plots a Premier League survival mission.
Adams’ winner – his eighth goal of the season – arrived 16 minutes from time, preventing the jeopardy of a penalty shootout, which Saints had required to sneak past third-tier Sheffield Wednesday in the previous round.
Lincoln, who sit 14th in Sky Bet League One and beat Championship Bristol City in round three, acquitted themselves well and will probably leave the south coast feeling aggrieved as replays suggested Adams’ 25th-minute equaliser was offside.
Saints substitute Samuel Edozie squandered a golden chance to make the result safe in added time when he somehow shot wide of an open goal, while match-winner Adams should have claimed a hat-trick with another excellent opening.

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With Newcastle’s No 9 seemingly thawing out nicely, Smith was placed under considerable pressure as they jumped for the ball and merely succeeded in heading into his own net.

There was still time for Pope to save brilliantly from Dominic Solanke but Howe’s side – who arguably should have had a penalty following Chris Mepham’s apparent handball – had done enough to eliminate his old employers.

“I was pleased with our resilience,” said O’Neil. “The boys were competitive against a top side.”

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