THIS was about as smooth and satisfying as Newcastle United could have had in the end, and even misfiring Joelinton got in on the act to end his long drought to seal the routine FA Cup third round replay win.

Head coach Steve Bruce had earlier got to bond with the Newcastle fans as his side controlled the tie, before the £40m man wrapped up the 4-1 victory with eight minutes remaining and celebrating with relief as much as joy.

Even though this was not a sell-out at St James’ Park, a comfortable triumph over League One’s Rochdale can be remembered as the night when supporters finally sang Bruce’s name on Tyneside – and in front of Mike Ashley too.

The owner was in attendance to watch the Magpies cruise into the next round at the second time of asking against Brian Barry-Murphy’s Dale, having agreed to have a transfer summit with Bruce to discuss a plan for the rest of the transfer window.

By the time the window closes on January 31, Newcastle will hope to have reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since Ashley took control in 2007 by beating Oxford at home.

Whether Bruce has new signings on board by then remains in the air.

But last night was about avoiding a cup shocker first and foremost. It was also a night to welcome back a couple of key men from injury to boost the battle to stay clear of the drop zone in the Premier League.

Newcastle never looked in any trouble. Unlike the first meeting at Spotland ten days earlier, Bruce looked on as his team made the most of a commanding first half to effectively seal a place in the next round before the half-time whistle.

There were three goals in that opening 45 minutes, and all arrived inside a quick-fire nine-minute spell. Rochdale defender Eoghan O’Connell turned in Matt Ritchie’s delivery to get things rolling, and then Matty Longstaff got on the end of another from the fit-again Scotland international soon after.

The first half scoring was completed when Miguel Almiron capitalised on a goalkeeping howler to score for the third game in a row, much to the delight of around 27,000 home fans who have taken the South American to their hearts.

To wrap things up, record signing Joelinton, desperate for a break, ended a 20-match wait for his second goal for the club, before Rochdale defender Jordan Williams hit a consolation for their efforts.

Given Newcastle’s extensive injury-list they could have done without having this replay sandwiched in between two Premier League dates. Despite that fact, there could not have been any complaints about the side sent out by Bruce and he gained the reward he wanted.

He was a man of his word when it came down to team selection, fielding a team capable of progressing and boasting plenty of first team experience. Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who made plenty of saves in the first meeting, was rested, but Karl Darlow had enough about him to keep out League One opposition.

But nothing could be taken for granted. After all Newcastle have not fared well in this competition during the Ashley era, failing to make it beyond the fourth round and regularly struggling to win a third round tie.

Newcastle, with six changes from the side that drew at Wolves four days earlier, started positively enough, with Emile Krafth and Ritchie providing the width and Christian Atsu floating between midfield and front two Almiron and Joelinton.

The sight of skipper Jamaal Lascelles – who got through almost an hour unscathed - lining up at the back for the first time since November 9 when he hobbled off against Bournemouth with knee trouble was a welcome one, as was Ritchie’s comeback from the ankle ligament damage sustained in a tackle with Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury in August.

In the first meeting between these sides Atsu tormented his marker in the opening half an hour down the left, but he was given the license to mix things up on this occasion. He was the furthest forward inside the tenth minute when he chested down a long pass for Almiron to sidefoot wide.

Almiron soon hit the post from the edge of the area, bouncing out for a corner off O’Connell, and that was soon followed by the opening goal when the Rochdale centre-back wasn’t so fortunate.

Ritchie, out to make the most of his chance to build up his match fitness, sent in a dangerous delivery and O’Connell’s attempt to slide in and clear resulted in him turning into his own net in the 17th minute.

That was the cue for Newcastle to get things wrapped up quickly. Within three minutes they had the second, with Ritchie at the centre again when his cross was controlled by Matty Longstaff before being curled round Robert Sanchez in the Rochdale goal.

It was a tidy finish but Sanchez was annoyed with the marking. Less than six minutes after that the visitors’ goalkeeper was red-faced himself, committing the calamitous mistake of passing straight to Almiron in his area.

The Paraguayan, who suddenly can’t stop scoring, composed himself to display his growing confidence and beat Sanchez with his fourth goal in seven matches having gone almost the full year at Newcastle without finding the net.

Rochdale’s decision to start with the positive formation they finished the first meeting with was a brave one, and it had soon backfired. There was to be no cup upset and 40-year-old Aaron Wilbraham, whose goal earned the replay after being introduced as a second striker, barely got a look in this time around.

Rochdale kept working hard and plugging away in front of their large travelling support, but Newcastle controlled things and had a couple more attempts before the break. Neither Joelinton nor Florian Lejeune could hit the target from distance.

Rochdale, who replaced Sanchez for the second half, did step things up immediately after the restart. Both Stephen Dooley, powering over, and Callum Camps, denied by Darlow from distance, tried their luck.

After that Newcastle introduced 20-year-old wing-back Tom Allan for Lascelles and finished with Andy Carroll in attack, in the hope he could create an opening for Joelinton.

A goal for the Brazilian, a confidence booster, would have been the ideal finish and it arrived in the closing stages when he arrived perfectly to turn Allan’s lovely cross beyond Jay Lynch.

There was still time for Rochdale to pull one back when Williams gave the away fans something to cheer.