Howe's gamble backfires as Newcastle blow trophy chance and expose shortcomings

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Certainly not the night Eddie Howe had hoped for
Certainly not the night Eddie Howe had hoped for

Josh Windass stunned high-flying Newcastle as Eddie Howe’s massive selection gamble backfired.

A weakened Toon side were dumped out of the FA Cup by Windass’s double strike after half time that wrecked the Geordies’ 15 game unbeaten run.

Newcastle’s pitiful FA Cup record was extended for another year after Howe made EIGHT changes to his best line up and saw them humiliated by the League One outfit. Last season’s Howe suffered his lowest moment in charge losing at home to Cambridge. This was just as shocking.

In the last 17 seasons Newcastle have exited in the third round ten times, and only once have they gone beyond the fourth round. It proved Howe, who has spend £210m on eight players, has a good first XI currently third in the Premier League, but below that the squad is not up to speed.

Windass and the South Yorkshire faithful didn’t care, taking full advantage of their misfiring opponents.

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Howe's gamble backfires as Newcastle blow trophy chance and expose shortcomingsSheffield Wednesday celebrate after Josh Windass found the net

Howe executed a major rejig of his starting 11, with the vital Carabao Cup clash with Leicester on Tuesday. Nicky Pope, Callum Wilson and Fab Schar were left to rest at home and didn’t travel.

Keeper Martin Dubravka, recalled from his Manchester United loan, started with Matt Ritchie, Jamal Lewis, Elliot Anderson and Javier Manquillo all thrown in for rare starts.

A host of stars including Miguel Almiron and Bruno Guimaraes started on the bench, but introduced on the hour in a bid to save the game.

And it was a gamble that backfired badly. Hillsborough was rocking.

George Byers left two Newcastle players for dead and sprayed right to Liam Palmer on the overlap. He then slotted to Dennis Adeniran who crossed for Josh Windass. The striker was offside, but there was no VAR at Hillsborough, and he squeezed home from six yards out.

Shortly after Botman and Anderson both went close, denied by brilliant saves from Cameron Dawson.

This was a rusty, slow and sloppy Newcastle performance and they were soon two down. Geordie striker Michael Smith, formerly of Wallsend Boys, slid Windass though the middle, and he outpaced the centre backs. Windass, 28, then curled in from the edge of the box to leave Newcastle facing another third round defeat.

Howe's gamble backfires as Newcastle blow trophy chance and expose shortcomingsIt's a huge win for the League One side

Howe sent the cavalry on.

England right back Kieran Trippier came off the bench and swung in a corner with his first kick. Chris Wood flicked on and Bruno Guimaraes tapped home from in front of the keeper. The Brazilian was offside, but again without VAR, the goal stood.

That set up a grandstand finish, with Almiron finding space down the right and the game opening up for the Geordies. Sub Willock went close.

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Then a moment sub Chris Wood will be haunted by. He was clear on goal, and skied his shot over the bar with eight minutes to go. It was a golden chance, he could have taken a touch, and a top flight striker would have scored. Windass hit the bar at the other end, and Smith nodded over.

Surprisingly Allan Saint-Maximin, who had not started games recently, was not in the match day squad. Newcastle officials insisted he was ill and not fit to play.

Wednesday, flying high in League One in second place, held on to clinch a famous scalp.

Simon Bird

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