League One Cambridge United produced a classic FA Cup upset as they defied the odds to stun Newcastle United at St James’s Park and reach the fourth round.
Joe Ironside, a striker who grew up idolising Magpies legend Alan Shearer, scored the winner, turning in from close range 11 minutes into the second half to prompt chaotic scenes amid the 5,000 travelling supporters.
Those fans and the visiting players had to endure a nervy and lengthy wait while the video assistant referee checked the goal – but a second round of jubilation followed when it was eventually confirmed.
The visitors survived plenty more agonising moments, with goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov superb throughout, particularly when flinging himself to his right to deny Joelinton in the dying moments.
Cambridge actually thought they had doubled their lead late on but had a Jack Lankester strike of their own ruled out for offside.
It was the latest chapter in a miserable season for Newcastle, whose billionaire owners watched on as their team were embarrassed by a team 16th in League One.
It also proved a miserable Newcastle debut for Kieran Trippier, the defender signed from Atletico Madrid on Friday, a transfer that was supposed to signal the start of a transformation of the playing squad on Tyneside.
But instead, the home side fell to a defeat which means they remain with only one win to their name in all competitions this season.
The game’s decisive moment – and one which will live long in FA Cup folklore – came when home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka appeared to have smothered the danger as the visitors threatened his goal, but was then robbed of the ball.
After defender Fabian Schar failed to clear, Middlesbrough-born Ironside tapped home from close range to earn the victory – and his team a place in the annals of great third-round shocks.
‘Nothing to lose’ – Cambridge deserve victory
Cambridge came into this game winless since early December, but it was their supporters dancing into the Tyneside evening as they left the stadium.
For long spells, as could be expected, they had their backs against the wall, but showed clear organisation whenever they went forward. The tone was set with Adam May’s early effort, but they knew how to put pressure on Newcastle’s porous defence.
Ironside was a threat all afternoon, as was Harvey Knibbs, who gave stand-in left-back Matt Ritchie a torrid time.
Mark Bonner, a 36-year-old who never played professionally, took over as Cambridge manager, initially as caretaker, in January 2020 and guided them to promotion from League Two last season.
Victory over a Premier League team, particularly one with the long-term vision of Newcastle, will certainly live in the memory for him and the club, who were in the National League as recently as 2014.
There was tactical organisation, defensive structure and a little bit of luck, but Cambridge had a “nothing to lose” mentality and it paid off in the end.
Newcastle’s striker woes laid bare
Much of the transfer talk on Tyneside has centred around defenders, but Callum Wilson’s injury against Manchester United last month has left a gaping hole in attack.
The repercussions of that were patently evident. Eddie Howe’s men created chances and played with urgency, particularly in the first half, but lacked a cutting edge when it mattered.
Mitov may have thwarted them on a number of occasions, but there was a lack of presence in the final third. Allan Saint-Maximin, while threating as usual, came wide to get more of the ball, and it only became easier for Cambridge after they went a goal up.
It is no secret that Newcastle will be busy in the transfer market this month, but without another striker, it could be trouble in May.
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- 36S LongstaffSubstituted forAlmirónat 60′minutes
- 23MurphySubstituted forWillockat 60′minutes
- 27WormanSubstituted forHoolahanat 61′minutes
- 19MaySubstituted forO’Neilat 90+5′minutes
- 26KnibbsBooked at 66minsSubstituted forLankesterat 76′minutesBooked at 79mins
- Tony Harrington
Match ends, Newcastle United 0, Cambridge United 1.
Second Half ends, Newcastle United 0, Cambridge United 1.
Attempt missed. Miguel Almirón (Newcastle United) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.
Substitution, Cambridge United. Liam O’Neil replaces Adam May.
Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Dimitar Mitov.
Attempt saved. Joelinton (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Harrison Dunk.
Attempt blocked. Fabian Schär (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Foul by Emil Krafth (Newcastle United).
Joe Ironside (Cambridge United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Emil Krafth (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Joseph Willock (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Joelinton (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by George Williams (Cambridge United).
Foul by Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United).
Harrison Dunk (Cambridge United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Adam May.
Jack Lankester (Cambridge United) is shown the yellow card.
Javier Manquillo (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Watch five third-round ties live across the BBC including Manchester United v Aston Villa – plus highlights from every match (UK only). Read the full details here.