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St James' Park, Newcastle (ATT 44,044) 29th January 2005 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: N Barry

Newcastle Newcastle United vs Coventry City Coventry

Magpies see off Sky Blues

By Scott Barefoot.   Last Updated: 29/01/05 5:10pm

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Newcastle United cruised into the FA Cup fifth round thanks to goals from Alan Shearer, Shola Ameobi and Celestine Babayaro. And if anybody disputes a week is a long time in football maybe they should speak to Graeme Souness.

Last weekend Souness was fronted by the biggest crisis of his four-month reign at St James' Park. Just seven days later all is rosy as he watched Newcastle's best performance of the season in a Craig Bellamy-free zone.

It may have been lowly Championship side Coventry who were swept aside on a biting afternoon in the North East but there were many positives for The Magpies to take out of this afternoon's hard work.

Shearer was back on the score sheet, Stephen Carr returned from injury, Kieron Dyer was the epitome of industry at the forward point of a midfield diamond, while behind him even better things were on view.

Amdy Faye, a £2 million signing from Portsmouth this week, settled in alongside Jermaine Jenas immediately, his neat passing and physical presence coupling well with Jenas's athleticism and attacking instincts.

Faye's arrival slipped under the radar because of the headline-hogging Souness-Bellamy spat. Souness won the row that threatened to rip Tyneside apart but how would the notoriously passionate fans react?

If there was mutiny in the ranks in midweek there was certainly no sign of it on the terraces. The Toon Army were solidly behind their team - and manager - from the off as Newcastle did everything but score in the first 15 minutes.

Patrick Kluivert, Babayaro, Shearer and Jenas, who brought a fine save from keeper Luke Steele, all threatened, while Kluivert shanked a shot wide from a great position inside the area on 22 minutes.

Though Coventry were utterly dominated for most of the first half their pluck frustrated the Premiership side. They managed to make it to the half-hour mark still at 0-0 and even managed a pop at goal, Stern John firing wide on 31 minutes.

Their defiance, however, ended quicker than you could say feigned injury.

Jenas kept the ball in play on the touchline before racing clear of the blue shirts and pulling the ball back for Shearer, who controlled on the edge of the box and then blasted a low drive across Steele and into the far corner.

It was 2-0 within five minutes when Ameobi left Stuart Giddings for dead on The Magpies' right and embarked on a mazy run before firing low inside Steele's near post. Coventry were out of it, or so it seemed.

Adebola, on in the fourth minute for injured Andy Morrell, flicked a pinpoint Stephen Hughes corner past a stunned Steve Harper with the last touch of the first period and halved what was a thoroughly deserved two-goal advantage.

Within seven minutes of the restart Newcastle were two goals in front again. Babayaro exploited space down the left and slapped in a shot that deflected off Adie Williams and past Steele for the Nigerian's first goal for the club.

That goal secured a welcome and relieving win for Newcastle. As the fans skipped out of the stadium Beautiful Day belted out across the sound system. It certainly seemed that way for Souness but the league will present bigger challenges than Coventry.

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