City 0 Newcastle 4

IT'S been more than 16 years since the Toon army last rode into Valley Parade.

David Wetherall scored his final – and rather less memorable – Premier League goal on that occasion before Newcastle hit back from two down to force a draw.

It was effectively a dead-rubber result for the Bantams, who were already consigned to the drop.

The result last night was equally superfluous as both sides build towards the real thing.

But the strength of line-up named by Rafa Benitez ensured City were given the sternest possible, and ultimately painful, working over in the final home warm-up before the Blackpool showdown.

For 45 minutes, the Bantams stood firm. For the next 45, they were simply blown away as Newcastle ruthlessly exposed the enormous gulf between the top flight and the mere mortals in the lower divisions.

City's cautious 5-4-1 set-up had reflected that concern at not being carved open by the visitors – as well as the diminished attacking options, with Paul Taylor and Dominic Poleon joining Charlie Wyke on the sidelines.

Both were minor worries but McCall was not going to take any chances with the season now so close.

So he added Matt Kilgallon as a third centre half and shifted Shay McCartan to the left of a four-man midfield. Alex Jones, returning from a tight groin, foraged on his own up top.

Tony McMahon forced Rob Elliot into an alert tip-over from 30 yards but it was Newcastle who quickly jumped on the game. Skipper Jonjo Shelvey pulled the strings to launch several blistering raids, with Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and the midfielder himself all threatening.

Newcastle had the ball in the net on 24 minutes and inevitably it came from Shelvey. But his fierce cross-shot must have flicked off Gayle as it flew across Colin Doyle as referee Geoff Eltringham chalked it off for hands.

Then Ritchie whipped in a fierce cross that bounced off the top of the bar as City's keeper back-pedalled.

Kilgallon was earning his corn under the Toon test with some important interventions and slid to make a stretching interception from Ayoze Perez's through ball as Gayle waited to burst clear.

Gayle, who used to give City plenty of trouble in his Dagenham days, threatened again as he ran at another former Dagger Romain Vincelot before letting fly with a curler that flew inches over the top right-hand corner.

As with Sunderland on Saturday, Newcastle possessed a quality that the Bantams will not have to face in regular league combat.

They also brought a nearly 2,500-strong travelling support that swelled the attendance to 7,601 – a Valley Parade high for a friendly since Stuart McCall's testimonial against Rangers.

Having survived the test of attack versus defence for 45 minutes, City were picked apart by two goals barely half a minute apart soon after the break.

Gayle managed to squirm a shot in from Christian Atsu's cross despite the frantic efforts of Doyle to drag it back from behind the line.

Then almost straight from the resulting kick-off, Newcastle stole possession and Gayle turned provider.

He released half-time substitute Jacob Murphy to run through, keeping his feet well to open up the defence for a well-taken finish. The floodgates had well and truly opened.

City, who had seen Jake Reeves fire into the side-netting just before, were understandably shell-shocked.

The sight of mass Newcastle changes, as Benitez introduced a legion of fresh legs, did not help them to settle.

Ciaran Clark, one of the two starters still on the pitch, fired over from Siem De Jong's free-kick as the visitors looked to inflict further pain.

Adam Chicksen had a shot comfortably saved on his weaker right foot but the black-and-white waves continued to pour forward.

More Newcastle goals seemed inevitable and two more soon followed thanks to the pace of winger Rolando Aarons. He sped down the left past Vincelot before laying one on a plate for Aleksandar Mitrovic.

As City tried to clear their heads with a rush of their own substitutions, Aarons was at it again. His cross was headed on to Murphy, who controlled on the chest before notching his second of the night with a sweetly-struck half-volley.

They were still not finished as Doyle showed good reactions to thwart Mitrovic, while Dan Pybus back-tracked desperately to thwart Aarons from close range.

Tony McMahon offered a moment of defiance with a free-kick that back-up keeper Freddie Woodman double-fisted over the bar. But the final whistle was greeted with a huge sense of relief after that second-half blitz.

City: Doyle, McMahon, Knight-Percival, Kilgallon, Chicksen, Gilliead (Gibson 77), Vincelot, Reeves (Devine 73min), Law (Pybus 77), McCartan (Hudson 77), Jones (Patrick 77). Subs (not used): Hanson, Sattelmaier.

Newcastle: Elliot (Woodman 61), Yedlin (Manquillo 46), Lejeune (de Jong 61), Clark (Saivet 77), Dummett (Mbemba 61), Shelvey (Gamez 61), Hayden (Colback 77), Ritchie (Murphy 46), Perez (Diame 46), Atsu (Aarons 61), Gayle (Mitrovic 61).