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Season 2002-03
Manchester United (h) Premier Reserve League (North)
Date: Thursday 24th April 2003, 7pm 

Venue:  St.James' Park

Light rain

Newcastle United Reserves

1 - 2 Manchester United Reserves


29 mins Ambrose shot 1-0

44 mins Heath shot 1-1

Half time: Newcastle Reserves 1  Man U 1 

68 mins Heath shot 1-2

Full time: Newcastle Reserves 1  Man U 2 

We Said

 Tommy Craig said: 

"I was disappointed with the result but delighted with the way they applied themselves."


After having spent the season calling first Gateshead Stadium and then Kingston Park home, Newcastle reserves returned to St.James' Park for one night only on Thursday for the visit of Manchester United.

And although we took the lead and created some reasonable chances, like the recent Premiership game, it was the Mancs who left Tyneside with the points.

It may be a little blurred, but this was the moment when Darren Ambrose first kicked a ball in anger for Newcastle. Less than half an hour later he had opened his account with a goal at the Leazes End.

The visitors shaded the opening exchanges and Harper was called into action after only 2 minutes, sticking out a leg to deny Mooniaruck.

However the Magpies had moments of their own in front of goal, with a Chopra header passing narrowly over the bar seconds later and a Cort effort smothered by the keeper on 4 minutes.

Debutant Ambrose was seeing a fair bit of the ball in midfield with Kerr, and it was the former Ipswich youngster who got on the end of a Cort knockdown from a Harper punt after 29 minutes to blast home off the underside of the crossbar.

Newcastle were forced to regroup within five minutes when Stephen Brennan went down in centre field with nobody near him and had to be helped from the pitch.

He was replaced by 17 year old Ben Webster, making his league debut at this level and he slotted into a right wing back role, allowing the home side to continue with a back three of Carr, Orr and Taylor.

As halftime approached Newcastle were beginning to dominate, but a mix-up in the home defence provided the reds with a crucial foothold in the match.    

Harper left his line to gather a loose ball but his quick throw to Bradley Orr caught the latter unawares, and the ball spun off him and into the path of Colin Heath. The former reds academy striker nipped in and with the keeper stranded, rifled home.

(NB: due to a change from the published team, the PA announcer wrongly named Mooniaruck as the scorer of this and the other Man U goal.)

The second half saw a reformed home side  with Ambrose and Kerr both replaced at the break - presumably on the instruction of the watching Sir Bobby, with Saturday's match in mind.

James Beaumont slotted into midfield and Lewis Guy pushed forward to make a front three with Chopra and Cort.

And it was Beamount who shot narrowly wide on 52 minutes as Newcastle sought to regain their advantage, with defender Phil Cave seeking to mark his reserve debut a minute later from distance.

Both those efforts were wide though, as was a header from Orr and two chances in quick succession for Michael Chopra, who had become increasingly subdued after a bright opening.

Just past the hour mark the match was evenly poised, Chopra tussling off the ball with reds defender Pugh and both sides looking for more goals.

However within a three minute spell the game was won and lost, as first Newcastle's Cave went down suffering from the effects of cramp, then within a minute Carl Cort fell to earth and sat forlornly in the centre circle before being helped off (see photo): 

That was on 67 minutes, and Newcastle were forced to play out the remainder of the match a man short, having already used their three replacements.

Unfortunately the visitors immediately made their numerical advantage tell, as a dangerous cross into the area forced Harper into a great blocking save from Fletcher's shot.

With the ball bouncing dangerously, it was that man Colin Heath again who reached it before a defender and converted from close range. 

Tough luck on Harper - who was later to pull off another noteworthy stop from Fox as Man United tried to make the game safe.

With one or two players from both sides suffering from the effects of cramp, the game died a little in the final twenty minutes and Chopra's miscued attempt to lob the keeper from a Quinn ball was as close as we came to threatening an equaliser.

Some dangerous moments were caused by Wayne Quinn's corners, with Taylor placing a header wide on 82 minutes, but too often Quinn's passes from open play were over-hit or misdirected - a pity as most of our moves were coming via him.

So it's back to Kingston Park for one more home reserve game this season, when Manchester City visit on May 6th.

Not the result hoped for, but a decent enough game nonetheless. It's clear that a better pitch makes for a better spectacle and a more valuable workout for the reserves, even if one or two struggled with the size of the playing surface.

The 3000+ fans present also showed the value of playing at least some games at SJP. That crowd was more than the aggregate attendance of our last four matches on the Falcons ground or the first five games we played at Gateshead.

That shouldn't be the last reserve action at Gallowgate this season though - hopefully the powers-that-be will allow the upcoming Northumberland Senior Cup final between the reserves and Whitley Bay to take place at SJP. 



Page last updated 24 April, 2012