Newcastle overcome injury woes to see off Cheltenham with Ayoze Perez's brace
Newcastle overcame a succession of injury setbacks as they brushed aside Cheltenham Town to reach the second round of the EFL Cup.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dwight Gayle and Rolando Aarons were all forced off through injury, while Ayoze Perez also suffered a clash of heads that resulted in him needing extensive bandaging.
However, Perez showed no ill effects from the problem as he scored either side of the interval to set up what was eventually a comfortable win.
The Spaniard struck in first-half stoppage time with his first touch after coming back on to the field - Cheltenham boss Gary Johnson felt he should not have been allowed to return so quickly - and scored again in the opening stages of the second half.
The win was Newcastle's third in a row in all competitions, and justified Rafael Benitez's decision to make eight changes.
The Magpies manager had to make another alteration in the 24th minute, with Aarons pulling up as a he sustained an injury that forced him to leave on a stretcher, and by that stage, Newcastle knew they were in a game.
Cheltenham might not have a League Two win to their name this season, but they were the better side for much of the first half and threatened in the early stages when Daniel Parslow headed over from a long throw and Harry Pell drilled a 22-yard shot straight at Magpies goalkeeper Karl Darlow.
Newcastle's first opportunity saw Grant Hanley head over from inside the 18-yard box, but the hosts might well have fallen behind had Cheltenham striker Danny Wright displayed more composure in the 20th minute.
Wright was completely unmarked as he met a cross from the left-hand side, but he shanked his first-time effort across the face of the penalty area.
Newcastle suffered two more injury blows before half-time, but while the first forced Mitrovic off with a cut eye, the second, to Perez, was less debilitating.
Perez suffered a head injury of his own, but returned to the field sporting a bandage, with his next touch opening the scoring.
A loose ball broke across the face of the penalty area, and from a position close to the left-hand corner of the box, the Spaniard swept a first-time strike into the bottom right-hand corner.
He was at it again less than two minutes into the second half, effectively putting the game beyond doubt as he doubled Newcastle's lead with his second goal of the evening.
Easah Suliman played Cheltenham into trouble with a dreadful back-pass that was intercepted by Gayle, and the former Crystal Palace striker unselfishly squared the ball across the face of the area for Perez to tap home.
Perez should have completed his hat-trick with nine minutes left, but he blazed over after Jonjo Shelvey had played him into the box.