Newcastle’s often-hopeless forays into the League Cup, or the Capital One Cup as it’s technically known, recommence this evening as they travel to the south-east corner of England to take on a Gillingham side who will be looking to cause an upset in the way that Brighton and Peterborough have done in the past.
Newcastle have only played Gillingham once, when, funnily enough, Newcastle travelled to Priestfield for a League Cup second round match on 1 September 1976 during the former’s campaign that would eventually see them defeated by Manchester City in the final. The two sides have never met in the same league, Gillingham having flirted with the second tier of English football in the late 1990s but never having reached the top flight. In any case, Newcastle triumphed 2-1 on the night, and Alan Pardew’s men will presumably be aiming to nick a similar tight victory against a side that has found itself established in the lower half of League 1.
The match will be played at Priestfield, Gillingham’s stadium since their foundation as New Brompton in 1893, a 11,582-all seater, with Newcastle’s allocation being around 2,000 and a sizeable number of the club’s London following expected to turn up for what should be a noisy encounter for home and away fans alike. Most recently, it saw the Gills hoist the League Two trophy as champions in June 2013. Interestingly it has also seen the tightest defence in Football League history, with Gillingham having conceded only 20 goals in 46 games in 1995/96, with club legend Jim Stannard keeping 29 clean sheets as they guaranteed promotion from Division Three.
Newcastle come into the match having played two competitive matches to their opponents’ five. The Gills beat Yeovil Town in the First Round, winning 2-1 after shambolic defending led to the Glovers leaving an open net.
The Kent side have won two, drawn one and lost two in all competitions, taking a clattering from Barnsley on Saturday afternoon, losing 4-1. Their other win this season was to add insult to injury, as they beat Yeovil 2-0 only four days after knocking them out of the League Cup. The Gills have shown an eye for goal, unlike their opponents, scoring 9 goals in their five games, although suffering from a leaky defence and conceding 11 in the same period.
Newcastle, as we well know, have been looking promising but misfiring somewhat. Failing to score in a loss to Manchester City and a goalless draw at Aston Villa on Saturday lunchtime, the Toon will be looking to allow their players to relax against a side who will be defending resolutely.
Gillingham will be looking to improve on last year’s performance, when they were dumped out of the cup in the First Round, losing to Bristol City 2-0. They have not had great success in the last few years in the cup, reaching the Second Round only twice in the last five years and going no further. Newcastle, meanwhile, progressed to the Fourth Round last season despite the management’s best intentions, eventually folding to a Manchester City side who they were unlucky not to beat in a competition which is not one of their preferred ones – only having reached the heights of the Fourth Round in the last few years.
Pardew ranted about livestock and TV revenue:
“Perhaps we at board level say what other boards don’t say – that the Premier League is the be all and end all because of the TV money. You can’t hide from that, and we have not hidden from it.”
“We have actually said it – perhaps to our detriment. We have said it, and that (the Premier League) is our priority. But of course we want to win a cup, and of course our fans do. I want to get some cows on that field in Newcastle (by getting the freedom of the city)!”
“One of the most disappointing games for me last year was Cardiff, when we should have won in the FA Cup but lost it in the last eight or nine minutes. That was our last cup game, and we need to react to that and get a win. The last two or three years in the Premier League we have lost key players like Remy and Cabaye and the players who have come in just have not been able to carry the flag – not that they are poor players – but we just needed a little bit more quality. So I feel we are in a strong position.”
Peter Taylor, at Gillingham since October 2013 in his second spell at the helm, said on Monday afternoon:
“I’ve got no doubt in my mind that the players will be looking forward to the game.
“It’s not a case of resting anyone, we will try to win the match – we will hopefully have a nice strong bench with players who can come on and cause a lot of problems.
“Yes we are talking about Premier League against League One but if you then believe you can run around more than your opponents and stop them having too much space then you can cause problems.
“We have players here who are as quick as anybody Newcastle have got. We will be walking out tomorrow night alongside a Newcastle player saying `I am going to be better than you, ` and if we have seven or eight players that can play better then it’s going to be a good night for us.
“We will enjoy the evening, it will be a good atmosphere and it’s a game of Football – if it’s a game of Football you’ve got a chance.”
Newcastle, according to their manager, will take the same 20-man squad to Gillingham as they took to Aston Villa at the weekend, with the exception of Mike Williamson, whose double yellow card means he is suspended. Steven Taylor is presumably his most likely replacement, with Yanga-Mbiwa untrusted and Satka excluded due to participation in a reserves match. This is perhaps a statement of intent to put out a strong side, with possible starts for Rolando Aarons and Facundo Ferreyra, who were singled out in Pardew’s pre match press talk.
Gillingham are at almost 100%, with no injuries to report and top scorer Danny Kedwell fit, leading their scoring charts this season with four goals.
A competitive debut as far as reffing Newcastle for Football League whistler Oliver Langford, who hails from the West Midlands.
No UK TV. Possibility of foreign streams is awaited although nufc.com claims there is none. There will be commentary on BBC Newcastle, but not its online streaming, and the Player.Gillingham service here, but that one is probably behind a paywall. Highlights will be shown tomorrow night on the BBC at 11.05pm.
I’m going to go for a tight 2-0 victory for us in what will surely be a nervy game.
How do you think we’ll get on in our first cup game of the season? Have your say in our discussion thread here.
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