By Peter Mann
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As others around them floundered, none more so that ailing Premier League side Manchester United, Tyneside breathed a sigh of relief as their own charges edged past the potential banana-skin of League One Gillingham.
With full debuts afforded to summer signings you would have been forgiven to think that this would have been a cruise control effort from the Magpies at the Priestfield Stadium. Pardew's men however never do things by halves; it is something the ever faithful Toon Army have grown accustomed to.
Siem de Jong and Rolando Aarons both started, the Dutchman being one of five full internationals in United's starting XI. Unfoirtunately though, for all the stellar proportions of the line-up that's as good as it would get; even the substitues bench consisted of quality, a rare occurrence in recent times.
On the pitch though the watching supporters, about a thousand of them, were left biting their nails the majority of the time. The reason being that United struggled in front of goal, again, with an own-goal from Gill's defender, and ex-Sunderland youth player, John Egan.
The defence though stood firm, they'd want to after the heroics of Krul and company at the World Cup, even if there were some scares - it wouldn't be Newcastle United if there wasn't any.
For now though it is a worrying prospect that the frontline are still to find theire feet - three games totalling 270 minutes and the only goal scored was this own goal, and by a Mackem.
Manchester City result withstanding, the defence though is kind of doing it's job.
Afterwards manager Alan Pardew, now starting his fourth full season at the Magpies helm, said: "We've won, that's the most important thing for the manager in the cup, and to be in the next round.
"Absolute respect was what we showed Gillingham tonight, and that's how you get wins at places like this."
It's back to St. James' on Saturday though with a 3pm kick-off against newly-promoted Crystal Palace. A win is a must, and handsomely, more so if Pardew and his charges are to hold off the doom-sayers that have circled for so long.
NUFC Line-Up: Tim Krul, Fabriccio Coloccini(c), Moussa Sissoko, Siem De Jong, Rolando Aarons, Massadio Haidara, Daryl Janmaat, Gabriel Obertan, Steven Taylor, Emmanuel Riviere, Mehdi Abeid.
Subs - Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran, Facunda Ferreyra, Ayoze Perez, Remy Carbella, Rob Elliot, Paul Dummett.
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