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Great Britain

Oxford 2 Newcastle 3 (AET): Allan Saint-Maximin saves Magpies’ FA Cup blushes with stunning extra-time strike

MIKE ASHLEY will never feel the love of the Toon Army, even if he goes strutting down Wembley Way to watch Newcastle in May.

The hated owner of St James’ Park was given an ear-bashing by the travelling supporters as he made a rare visit to see his team.

But finally, in the 13th season of his joyless reign, Newcastle have reached the fifth round of the FA Cup — despite tossing away the two-goal lead they had held until the 84th minute of normal time.

In a thrilling replay full of outstanding goals Allan Saint-Maximin netted a brilliant solo winner four minutes from the end of extra-time to book a fifth-round visit to West Brom.

On a night for rarities, £40million striker Joelinton netted only his third goal for the club, after Geordie midfielder Sean Longstaff had opened the scoring with a beauty.

But with Newcastle never doing things the easy way, Liam Kelly and Nathan Holland scored late belters to force extra-time — only for Frenchman Saint-Maximin to settle it with only his second goal for the club.

With Championship leaders Albion prioritising promotion, Newcastle have a glorious chance to reach a first quarter-final since 2006.

Steve Bruce, whose Hull side gave Arsenal an almighty scare in the 2014 final, is taking this competition seriously — which has not always happened under Ashley’s tenure.

Still, Ashley — who is actually from Buckinghamshire — received his customary greeting of “you fat Cockney b*****d, get out of our club” as his side made hard work of what had looked like being a straightforward night.

Bruce made five changes from the side held to a goalless draw by Norwich in the Premier League on Saturday.

The starting line-up was still experienced but the Toon Army — craving a Cup run above all else — might have wished it to be stronger still.

Although they did have both of the Geordie Longstaff brothers — Sean and Matty — coming back into midfield.

Newcastle fan in obscene celebration as he dances with penis out on live TV after Saint-Maximin winner

Oxford, chasing the play-offs in League One, had reached the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, hammering West Ham on the way.

So this was always going to be a testing night for Bruce’s boys — hence the BBC’s decision to screen it live, with Newcastle legend Alan Shearer lapping up the chants of his adoring public as he sat in the Match of the Day box overlooking the Kassam Stadium car park.

At least Bruce, unlike Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, actually turned up for this replay during his team’s supposed winter break.

Home supporters unveiled a massive banner of Jim Smith, who managed both clubs and died in December.

The visitors were on top from the off, with some assured passing but no real scoring opportunities, before they grabbed the lead on 15 minutes.

Oxford were caught trying to play out from back, Matt Ritchie intercepted with a header and found Miguel Almiron, who delivered a low left-wing cross.

Joelinton laid it back smartly for Sean Longstaff, who hammered a powerful curling shot past Simon Eastwood from the edge of the area for his first goal of the season.

After back-to-back goalless draws at St James’ Park, it was received gratefully by the masochistic bunch who crammed the away section.

It ought to have been 2-0 within a minute as Ritchie fed Nabil Bentaleb, who centred for Joelinton to shoot wide across goal.

Oxford played some neat, sweet stuff until they reached the final third.

But on the half-hour they were two-down.

Almiron won possession deep in his own half and Bentaleb delivered a superb lofted 40-yard pass over the defence for Joelinton to race clear and calmly side-foot past Eastwood.

It was the £40million Brazilian’s second FA Cup strike but he has not scored in the Premier League since August.

And within a few minutes he hobbled off, appearing to clutch his hip, and was replaced by Saint-Maximin.

Finally, the hosts got themselves a sight at goal, Jamie Mackie’s turn and shot forced an excellent stop from Karl Darlow, then Jamaal Lascelles headed off the line to deny Sam Long.

Holland fired into the turf and over from close range before Almiron missed a decent chance for the visitors.

Newcastle felt they should have had a penalty early in the second half when Long appeared to trip Almiron but ref Peter Bankes was having none of it.

Sub Matty Taylor went close for the home side when he stabbed wide from a Holland cross.

And then Kelly, on loan from Feyenoord, curled a cracking free-kick over the wall, with Darlow only able to help it on its way in the 82nd minute.

Suddenly, Bruce’s men were rocking and Oxford’s Josh Ruffels skied one he should have scored right on 90 minutes.

If he thought that would be the hosts’ final chance, he was wrong, with Holland volleying home a stunning 94th-minute equalise when Newcastle were unable to clear another free-kick.

But Saint-Maximin slalomed round two defenders and hammered an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net to give Ashley his first taste of the FA Cup’s last 16.

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