WITH six minutes to go there was still every chance that the headline writers’ forward planning was going to pay dividends.
On back pages across the land appeared the words “Morecambe” and “Unwise”.
Next to them were blank boxes greedily awaiting a dramatic winner from Newcastle United’s League Two hosts.
Readers who can recall football even before the advent of the Premier League will remember similar puns when Graham Taylor was unfortunately England manager.
It started fairly originally with “Swedes 2, Turnips 1” after the national side’s elimination from the 1992 European Championships and continued with the pitiful “Spanish 1, Onions O” and the average “Yanks 2, Planks 0” before Taylor was dismissed a year later.
Thankfully Newcastle United failed for once to read the script properly after two late goals from the Ameobi brothers secured a welcome if flattering 2-0 Capital One Cup win on Wednesday night.
Mind, if their first-half performance was anything to go by, Alan Pardew’s squad team had certainly given the plot’s outline more than a casual glance.
Plucky Morecambe constantly exposed their visitors’ lack of quality in reserve before running out of steam after the interval.
A cunning plan hatched in advance by Pardew to eventually grind the hosts down to Newcastle’s level? Don’t you believe it.
Only desperate saves and goal-line clearances kept the Magpies in the contest before Shola bobbled in his winner to add another victim to a list of goalscoring scalps that also includes the might of Yeading, Accrington Stanley and Sunderland (in that order of mightiness).
Now back to the Premier League and Saturday’s home clash with the old aged footballers’ retirement village more commonly known as Fulham Football Club.
August is alas a little too early to be playing the Londoners’ over-30s brigade.
Ideally you would want them after the clocks change when the fitful Dimitar Berbatov is unlikely to fancy it so far north and their collective legs are shot.
Should the sun shine on Saturday then Pardew’s side may have to settle for a point at best.
That would then leave just two days before the transfer window shuts for the club to satisfy the fans’ clamour for a new striker.
Forward planning, eh? Always works.
– GAVIN LEDWITH