U23s' attempt to emulate their first team colleagues and gain promotion to the
top flight foundered at the final hurdle at St. James' Park on Tuesday night.
A crowd of over 1,800 saw them grab a deserved lead
against West Ham in their playoff semi-final tie - only to twice pay the price
for leaving striker Toni Martinez space to work in.
The promising Spaniard netted twice against United at reserve level earlier in
the season and also notched a goal while on loan at Oxford during our FA Cup
And he scored either side of half time at SJP, as West Ham came from behind to
claim a place in Premier League 2 Division One next season at our
Peter Beardsley handed starts to long-term injury victims Liam Smith and
Kyle Cameron and that pair combined on 19 minutes to set up the opener:
Smith's corner nodded back by Cameron for Tom Heardman to force the
ball in on the goal line.
Although knocking the ball around well, Newcastle were unable to create
anything else and conceded following a rare bit of pressure just before half
time - Martinez picking his spot from inside the box.
And it was Martinez again who struck ten minutes after the break when he was
given sight of goal and duly obliged with another sweetly-struck shot from
18 yards that beat Nathan Harker in the Leazes End goal.
Sadly for the hosts, their best efforts to find a leveller and force extra
time were unsuccessful - their main opportunity a 75th minute corner that
caused a scramble in the six yard box before visiting goalkeeper Raphael
Spiegel recovered to smother it.
Backed by a small knot of fans in one end of the East Stand, West
Ham celebrated their success on a hastily-erected stage in the centre circle,
their achievement marked with medals and a shield.
That was a disappointing end to an improved season for Newcastle's second
string, who more than doubled their points tally from the 2015/16 campaign to
record their best points tally since 2013.