Smith’s own goal earns Newcastle victory over Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup

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Shortly after Adam Smith’s own goal put Newcastle ahead, Gallowgate End erupted into a short chorus of ‘We’re going to Wemberlee’, but he was strangely half-hearted and soon died out in the cool night air of Tyneside.

By the full-time whistle Eddie Howe’s side had made it to the quarter-finals, but the general stiffness of the performance explained the unusual lack of animation from their fans. There appears to be a considerable warm-up to go before they visit Leicester on Premier League business on Boxing Day.

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“We weren’t at our peak fluency, but we’re going to be better for that game,” Howe said. “We needed competitive action. Bournemouth made it difficult for us, they were very deep and tight and we played into their hands to some extent, but part of the reason we struggled to break them down was simply because we haven’t played together for a while. We know there is much more to come from our team.”

One Newcastle player free from rust in the ring was Sven Botman who excelled as a midfielder, managing Bournemouth’s dangerous Wales striker Kieffer Moore superbly.

Avoiding relegation remains Gary O’Neil’s priority, but that hasn’t stopped him scoring his first game as permanent Bournemouth manager by appointing a strong squad. O’Neil’s only problem was that Howe’s starting XI was equally full of regular first-picks including a quintet of players recently returned from the World Cup.

While Callum Wilson, Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope, Bruno Guimarães and Fabian Schär have all spent part of the last five weeks in Qatar, the rest of the Newcastle squad have just returned from a training camp in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps their slow start had something to do with the shock of being plunged back into a freezing northeastern winter? Maybe everyone was just defrosting?

The excitement fueled by Newcastle’s rise to third place in the top flight coupled with a rare cup run meant that ‘sell out’ signs appeared at St James’ Park three weeks ago, but a nearly all exhausted had little to cheer about until the 26th minute when Wilson’s shot narrowly escaped Mark Travers.

With a very late linesman’s flag signaling a controversial offside against a prone Joe Willock, the cheer proved short-lived as that effort was cancelled.

Wilson’s strike partner Miguel Almirón should have scored at half-time but a striker who couldn’t stop scoring before the World Cup somehow missed from close range after Dan Burn’s stellar overlap.

Howe’s team was able to at least pick up the pace in the second half. Perhaps the virus that had crept into O’Neil’s side was taking its toll but, with Botman constantly second-guessing Moore and company, Bournemouth were short on ideas.

Yet for all of Newcastle’s possession, he lacked sharpness in the penalty area and almost paid off when Moore’s menacing diving header deflected narrowly wide after Smith’s fine cross.

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

Che Adams scored twice as Southampton scored in Nathan Jones’ first home game as manager, as they progressed into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Lincoln.
Top scorer Adams scored either side of half-time to keep the Saints from blushing after the Imps threatened an upset following Gavin Bazunu’s early own goal.
The lackluster hosts struggled through much of a forgettable fourth round match at a sparsely populated St Mary’s, leaving Jones with plenty to think about as he plans a Premier League survival mission.
Adams’ winning goal – his eighth goal of the season – came with 16 minutes remaining, preventing the risk of a penalty shoot-out, which the Saints had required to overcome third division Sheffield Wednesday in the previous round.
Lincoln, who sit 14th in Sky Bet League One and beat Championship Bristol City in round three, performed well and is likely to leave the south coast feeling slighted as replays have suggested Adams’ 25th-minute equalizer was in offside.
Saints substitute Samuel Edozie squandered a golden chance to secure the scoreline in added time when he somehow shot wide through an open net, while match winner Adams should have scored a hat-trick with a another excellent opening.

With Newcastle’s number 9 seemingly thawed well, Smith came under considerable pressure as they leapt for the ball and simply managed to squeeze into their own net.

There was still time for Pope to make a brilliant save from Dominic Solanke, but Howe’s side – who probably should have conceded a penalty after Chris Mepham’s apparent handball – had done enough to eliminate his old employers.

“I’ve been pleased with our resilience,” O’Neil said. “The boys were competitive against a top level team.”

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