Nothing is this world is certain except death, taxes, and Newcastle going out of the cup early.
Only twice in the 11 years of Mike Ashley’s reign have Newcastle been beyond the fourth round of either domestic tournament and the City Ground was the scene of the latest chapter in a story that is becoming stale and scandalous in equal measure.
A frenetic finish masked the torpor of what had come before. It must be boring being a Newcastle supporter when the League Cup or FA Cup rolls around. Changes are made and, invariably, defeat follows.
Matty Cash (centre left) celebrates putting Nottingham Forest in front in stoppage time
Matty Cash scored in the 94th-minute in stoppage time to deny Newcastle a penalty shootout
Gil Dias leaps in the air after the Championship side sealed their 3-1 win over Newcastle
Daryl Murphy glances a header past Karl Darlow to give Nottingham Forest an early lead
The Forest squad congratulate Murphy after he broke the deadlock inside two minutes
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
NOTTINGHAM FOREST: (4-2-3-1) Steele 7; Byram 7 (Darikwa 39’ 6.5), Hefele 8, Fox 7, Robinson 7; Watson 7, Bridcutt 7; Dias 7.5, Carvalho 7.5 (Cash 82’), Lolley 7.5 (Osborn 58’ 6); Murphy 7.5
SUBS NOT USED: Pantilimon (GK); Tobias Figueiredo, Goncalves, Appiah
GOALS: Murphy (2); Cash (90+4); Dias (90+7)
BOOKINGS: Dias (68); Hefele (76); Robinson (83)
COACH: Aitor Karanka 7
NEWCASTLE: (4-4-1-1) Darlow 6; Sterry 6, Schar 5, Fernandez 6.5 (Perez 69’ 6.5), Clark 6; Atsu 6.5, Ki 5, Longstaff 7, Kenedy 6; Muto 5 (Murphy 76’ 6), Joselu 6 (Rondon 82’)
SUBS NOT USED: Elliot (GK); Dummett, Murphy, Diame, Perez, Yedlin
GOALS: Rondon (90+2)
BOOKINGS: Joselu (76); Longstaff (81); Perez (90+7)
COACH: Rafa Benitez 6
REFEREE: Jeremy Simpson 7
MAN OF THE MATCH: Michael Hefele (Nottingham Forest)
VENUE: The City Ground
As happened last year when these teams met at this stage, Nottingham Forest won and the concern for those 2,500 Newcastle fans who travelled to the Trent is that Aitor Karanka’s side have been struggling for fluency themselves. Two key Forest players were forced off with injuries too.
Most damningly in the wake of the Chelsea defeat, Rafa Benitez’s team did not even manage a shot on target until the second minute of stoppage time when the cavalry had arrived. Ayoze Perez slipped in Salomon Rondon, who buried his finish in off the post.
But it was only momentary respite. Two minutes later Forest broke through Gil Dias and his cross was pushed out by Karl Darlow to the feet of Matty Cash, who raced onto the ball and smashed it home.
Perez then wanted a penalty after a collision with Luke Steele but in the final seconds Dias benefitted from Kenedy’s sluggish play to lift a delicate finish over Darlow and confirm victory.
At the final whistle Perez lost his cool and had to be restrained from reaching referee Jeremy Simpson by his teammates and Benitez.
When the dust settled however Newcastle were out off the back of a display that causes concern in their fight against relegation. Those in the away end still sung their manager’s name and chanted for the departure of owner Ashley but with Manchester City up next a dramatic improvement is required.
Ayoze Perez is restrained by Newcastle coaching staff and players after being denied a penalty
Murphy came close to doubling his and Forest’s tally only to be denied by Federico Fernandez
Benitez defended his decision to make seven changes. ‘The penalty was so obvious and we have the feeling we deserve more,’ he said. ‘To win a cup competition with our squad will not be easy. At the same time the team was to try to win. Nobody can complain about that. With players injured we couldn’t take risks.’
Those in the treatment room include Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ricthie, who were involved in a furious bust-up during training last week. If only the team had shown such fight against Forest.
Darlow performed admirably on his return to the City Ground by denying Forest a second
Gil Dias attempts to put past Newcastle keeper Darlow but his attempt is seen out of play
Newcastle went behind inside two minutes. Sam Byram nutmegged Kenedy and whipped a fantastic cross to the six-yard box. Daryl Murphy got in front of Fabian Schar and buried his header past Darlow, giving Karanka’s side the lead after just 93 seconds.
Murphy declined to celebrate, having been a part of Newcastle’s 2016-17 Championship promotion campaign. But given this was the 35-year-old’s 100th career goal and a first in this competition he would have been forgiven a first pump or two.
Benitez was handing a debut to 20-year-old Sean Longstaff in central midfield, and giving a sixth appearance to Jamie Sterry, a right-back aged 22.
Former Magpie Murphy brings the ball away from a grounded Sean Longstaff of Newcastle
Yoshinori Muto made his first start for Newcastle alongside Joselu up front and the pair went close to equalising for the visitors. Joselu glanced on Christian Atsu’s corner but the ball drifted just wide and beyond the stretch of Muto at the far post.
In the second half Murphy rounded Darlow and aimed to slot in, only being denied by Federico Fernandez’s magnificent diving block. From Joao Carvalho’s corner Michael Hefele arrived unmarked but guided his header wide.
Soon after Carvalho’s delicate chip almost embarrassed Darlow only for him to claw it away acrobatically. Forest deserved the win.
‘I’m pleased for the whole performance,’ said Karanka. ‘The main thing for me is we saw how good we are, especially when we play without pressure. We are here to try to build something, to grow step by step. We were much better than a Premier League team.’
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez shouts instructions to his squad as they trailed Forest