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40-year-old substitute earns Rochdale draw with Newcastle United

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Aaron Wilbraham

Veteran striker Aaron Wilbraham came off the bench to earn third-tier Rochdale a 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle United on Saturday in the third round of the English FA Cup.

The English Premier League side dominated the opening period at Spotland, with Miguel Almiron firing them ahead after 17 minutes.

But Rochdale, struggling in 18th place in League One, were a different proposition after the break and 40-year-old Wilbraham, a half-time substitute, poked home a 79th minute leveller.

If that was not enough for FA Cup romantics, it was a 17-year-old Luke Matheson who crossed for Wilbraham to score only his second career goal in the FA Cup.

“We played football in the second half. We mixed it up well and were unlucky not to win the game.

“It will be a great experience for the lads to go up to St James’ Park (for the replay),” said Wilbraham, playing the 674th match of his journeyman career.

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Newcastle United, who fielded a strong line-up, struggled to cope with Rochdale’s direct style in the second half.

The hosts would have been celebrating a famous win had Oliver Rathbone not scuffed a glorious late chance wide.

In other FA Cup games, top-flight Burnley eased into round four with a 4-2 home win over third-tier Peterborough United.

Tom Eaves scored a hat-trick for Championship side Hull City as they came from behind to win 3-2 at third-tier Rotherham United.

Birmingham City beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 in an all-Championship clash.

Fourth-tier Newport County went down 3-0 at Millwall but third-tier Shrewsbury Town earned a replay after a 1-1 draw at Championship side Bristol City.

Rochdale, who held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw in the League Cup this season before losing on penalty kicks, should have been buried before half-time as Newcastle United outclassed them.

Christian Atsu terrorised their defence and it was his run and cut-back that allowed Almiron to take a touch before firing into the roof of the net.

Striker Joelinton wasted some great chances to put the tie to bed for Newcastle United and Rochdale finally rose to the challenge.

With the home fans finding their voices, Rochdale carved out some good chances.

None was more so than when Rathbone’s shot was turned into the path of Ian Henderson by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, but the home skipper’s close-range shot hit the post.

Newcastle United have not been past the fourth round since 2006.

They will now need a replay to even reach that stage this season after Wilbraham finished off a great move to send the home fans wild.

“Credit to Aaron Wilbraham he is been around longer than I have!” Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce said.

[Reuters/NAN]

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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