Newcastle paid for missed chances against Rochdale – Bruce
Steve Bruce admitted his side were made to pay for missed chances after being forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in their FA Cup third round tie at League One Rochdale.
The Magpies dominated the first half and Miguel Almiron’s opener looked set to steer them into the next stage with the minimum of fuss before 40-year-old Aaron Wilbraham’s 79th minute equaliser capped a stirring comeback.
Instead of toasting a place in round four, Bruce must now prepare his increasingly depleted squad for a replay, with Almiron and Yoshinori Muto now added to the list of injury doubts.
Bruce said: “Our frailties are pretty obvious – we don’t score enough goals and with the chances we’ve created today we’ve got to be taking them and the tie should have been put to bed.
“We were excellent in the first half but the losses of Muto and Almiron gave us another thing to think about. (But) we’re in the hat and we’ve got a replay, and some might need a game after coming back from injury.”
Bruce confirmed Almiron picked up a groin strain that will be scanned next week, while Muto’s hip injury appears to present more concern.
Newcastle’s inability up front was underlined by another low-confidence display from Joelinton, but Bruce insisted he retains belief in the Brazilian despite looking for reinforcements in the transfer window.
“He (Joelinton) has had a difficult time but he’s got to stick at it,” added Bruce.
“Until two weeks ago Almiron hadn’t scored but now he’s scored two in fairly quick succession, so he’s just got to stick at it.”
On his bid to bring in new faces, Bruce said: “We’ve had a couple of knock-backs already so we’ll keep working away.
“It’s very difficult, especially at that end of the pitch, to get something that’s
going to make you better. I won’t just be bringing in players for the sake of it, but we’ll see what the next two or three weeks bring.”
Rochdale boss Brian Barry-Murphy revealed Wilbraham had overcome personal heartbreak to add another chapter to his storied career with his well-taken leveller.
Barry-Murphy said: “Aaron’s mum passed away recently so he’s been playing with that memory for the last couple of weeks.
“He’s an amazing guy and he had a huge impact on the same half – the same impact he has on the group all the time.”
Barry-Murphy paid tribute to the way in which his side shrugged off a difficult first period, and admitted a touch of disappointment they did not finish the job after Oliver Rathbone missed a late chance to grab a winner.
Barry-Murphy added: “It’s a huge result for everybody associated with the town and the way we finished the game was very good.
“I think we were in awe of them at the start and we were surprised with the speed and intensity of Newcastle, and it was all about getting to half-time with as little damage as possible.
“I thought we’d win it because once we get on a roll we can be very dangerous. It’s been a hell of tough season but we’ve had amazing performances in both cups and it’s another incredible chapter.”
Barry-Murphy also paid tribute to 17-year-old Luke Matheson, who came off the bench to set up Wilbraham’s equaliser and add another golden moment to a season which has already seen him score against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Barry-Murphy added: “Luke is a very dynamic player and he always makes a big difference.
“With the speed he possesses and the way he plays, he is in tune with the Premier League and he possesses all the characteristics of a top player.”