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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.