THERE was to be no FA Cup shock at St James’ Park on third round day as a strong Newcastle United team overcame League Two leaders Luton Town 3-1 despite a second half scare.

Three goals inside nine first half minutes did the damage to effectively put the Magpies in round four before the half-time whistle had even blown.

Spaniard Ayoze Perez hit the first on half an hour and added the second six minutes later.

When Jonjo Shelvey struck his first of the season six minutes before the break it seemed Luton were dead and buried.

But striker Danny Hylton offered hope by pulling one back for the visitors, who overcame Gateshead in the previous round, in the 49th minute and that sparked them back into life.

Benitez had promised not to make too many changes and it was as strong as he wanted to make it – with the exception of handing a first team debut to young goalkeeper Freddie Woodman.

The 20-year-old, who won the World Cup with the England Under-20s in the summer, didn’t have an awful lot to do in terms of saves and managed to keep a clean sheet.

That laid the foundations for Newcastle, who have not progressed beyond the fourth round of the competition since 2006, to avoid a sixth exit to lower league opposition from their last seven ties.

Consett Stanley Advertiser:

OPENER: Ayoze Perez puts Newcastle ahead

Newcastle started the brighter from the first whistle, although after Jacob Murphy and Dwight Gayle had early shots there was some purpose about Luton.

The Hatters, with former St James’ footballer Rob Lee’s sons Olly and Elliot in their ranks, threatened a few times without testing Woodman in the Newcastle goal in that opening period.

And then Newcastle, who worryingly lost skipper Jamaal Lascelles through injury when the opener went in, took advantage from the 30-minute mark.

The lively Murphy earned a free-kick. Gayle curled it towards goal, goalkeeper Marek Stech fumbled and Perez was on hand to force over the line.

Stech did better from another Gayle header following Matt Ritchie’s cross moments later but the ball still fell invitingly for Perez to force over the second.

And Shelvey put the game out of reach before the break when he pounced on Gayle’s perfect pass to side-foot inside Stech’s bottom left corner.

Consett Stanley Advertiser:

KILLER BLOW: Jonjo Shelvey celebrates Newcastle's third

Luton, who introduced Harry Cornick at the break, needed a quick lifeline to make a game of it and it arrived inside four minutes of the restart – and Woodman will be disappointed with his part.

The talented youngster raced out of his box to meet a punt forward but Hylton got there first and rounded the keeper before finding the empty net.

The powerful front-man also found the net moments later, only for it to be ruled out for offside, as a few nerves started to emerge among the home fans and players. Luton sensed a comeback.

It was almost game on too when Elliot Lee, moments after coming on, curled a brilliant free-kick off the crossbar as Nathan Jones’ men continued to press. He also went close with the last kick.

Before that last chance though Newcastle had gained control of things. Murphy and Ritchie had decent efforts and even if those didn’t go in, the Premier League side had done enough to see the game through.

NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-2-3-1): Woodman; Manquillo, Lascelles (Hayden 36), Clark, Dummett; Shelvey (Diame 71), Merino (Saivet 80); Murphy, Perez, Ritchie; Gayle. Subs (not used): Darlow (gk), Aarons, Joselu, Haidara.

LUTON TOWN (4-1-3-2): Stech; Justin, Mullins, Rea, Potts; Ruddock-Mpanzu (Cornick 46); O Lee, Shinnie (Gambin 82), Berry; Collins (E Lee 68), Hylton. Subs (not used): Stacey, Cook, Shea (gk), Famewo.