Newcastle United 3 Scunthorpe United 0
WHEN Newcastle United crash-landed in the Championship in May, it was meant to be nights like this that illustrated just how far they had fallen.
The prospect of tiny Scunthorpe United – who have spent most of their existence bouncing about the lower reaches of the Football League – rolling up at St James’ Park on equal terms with one of British football’s traditional powerhouses was supposed to be a chastening experience for a club that had fallen on lean times.
As it turns out, it merely served as a reminder that Newcastle United belong on a higher plain than the one they currently inhabit.
This straightforward win – Newcastle’s sixth in succession at Fortress St James’ Park – has taken them to within five victories of returning to the division from which they were rudely evicted last year, and not one neutral observer could argue that they don’t deserve it.
Unerringly efficient in the fag end of 2009, United have found an extra gear since the turn of the year on their own turf and opposition teams have begun to sense it.
Scunthorpe arrived, like the rest of them, hoping to spring a surprise but in truth it soon became apparent that they were like rabbits caught in the headlights of the black and white juggernaut.
St James’ Park has rarely witnessed a win as routine as the embarrassingly one-sided contest that played out last night.
Hughton has often talked of repelling complacency in the dressing room but when opponents as ill-equipped to cope as Scunthorpe begin to turn up, that is a mighty task.
Give Newcastle their due, they went about their business with ruthless efficiency – Andrew Carroll in particularly looking razor sharp against an Iron side that were set up to frustrate, but rarely looked capable of repelling a United outfit that looks irresistible on their own patch.