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 If the Kids are United
 Part 25- Appeared in the Mag, November 2003 

Anything the first team can do, we can do better! That was the message from York Street, as a home-grown Magpie reserve side emulated the feat of our senior side 24 hours earlier in conjuring a 3-2 win from an early 0-2 scoreline.

While it was widely expected that our entry in the Pontins Reserve League this season would see a side of Academy graduates competing alongside the second strings of York, Darlington, Hartlepool etc. but in our first six games this didn’t happen. While a sprinkling of youngsters were included, they lined up alongside the likes of Acuna, McClen and Cort, while even Robert and Solano were drafted in as we finally won at the fifth time of asking, away at Doncaster Rovers.

However, a ridiculous and avoidable piece of fixture non-planning meant that both our Premier Reserve and Pontins sides were in action on the same night in late October.

And while Tommy Craig stewarded an experienced Premier team to a 3-1 victory over the mackems at Durham City, down the road in deepest Lincolnshire, a young squad was dispatched to take on the reserves of Division Three Boston United, who included much-travelled midfielder Neal Redfearn – at 37 quite literally old enough to have fathered the entire toon squad (!)

Under the care of Kenny Wharton, Newcastle lined up as follows: Adam Bartlett, Lee Norton, Phil Cave, Steven Taylor, Peter Ramage, Andy Ferrell, Martin Brittain, Kris Gate, Guy Bates, Lewis Guy, Alan O'Brien. Subs: Chris Farman, Marc Walton, Ben Webster, Matty Pattison, Craig Baxter.

Of those 16, all but 5 have played in the Academy U19 league this season, while they are all still to make a first team appearance of any sort but all featured at various times in the successful Premier Reserve side, currently sitting in second place.

Things got off to the worst possible start at York Street when Whitley-Bay born defender Ramage received a straight red card after only five minutes for his last-man back challenge on the much-travelled Peter Duffield.

And when Redfearn netted with a powerful swerving 25-yard shot from the resultant free kick, it looked black for Wharton's side.

The Newcastle coach acted quickly to sacrifice striker Bates, replaced by substitute centre back Farman, while Gate continued in centre midfield rather than his more accustomed full back slot.

The reshaped visitors sought to get back on equal terms and on 9 minutes a good run down the left from O'Brien saw him deliver a centre that just eluded sole striker Guy.

Another disaster in the Newcastle area three minutes later though saw the Pilgrims extend their advantage. Duffield's through ball presented Brough with a shooting chance and although he was denied by Bartlett, Redfearn again was on hand to convert from close range for his and Boston's second.

Undaunted though, Newcastle continued to threaten the home defence and within six minutes could easily have been level, Guy seeing one shot blocked and flashing another one narrowly wide.

Despite our numerical disadvantage the game continued to ebb and flow, with toon Captain Ferrell blasting over from the edge of the box, while at the other end Redfearn went looking for his hat trick with two more howitzer-like free kicks that whistled past Bartlett's goal.

And they weren't the only dangerous things flashing through the air, with the game being halted in the 36th minute after a small firework was thrown onto the pitch from outside the ground. Mercifully, play was going on in a different section of the field at that moment.

With half time approaching, Newcastle's Eire youth International redoubled his efforts to try and reduce the deficit, seeing one goal attempt ruled out for offside and then flicking the ball over the stranded Boston 'keeper, only for a retreating defender to appear and block his goalbound flick.

The second half began with the Magpies pushing forward in a major effort to try and pull at least one goal back - a measure of our enterprise coming in the 50th minute when both central defenders Taylor and Farman were involved in an almighty scramble in the home area before the ball was hacked away.

If a goal was to come from anywhere for Newcastle, a Guy finish from an O'Brien cross would have been a short-odds bet and the two combined on numerous occasions without success.

However Boston still threatened to increase their lead, with toon 'keeper Bartlett denying Duffield twice in as many minutes, bravely diving to smother a cross then blocking a low shot at full stretch.

The visitors continued to up the pressure, forcing three successive corners before finally reducing the arrears in the 56th minute.

There were guffaws from the home crowd when Martin Brittain completely missed his attempted volley from an O'Brien cross, but these were silenced when Brittain recovered to centre from the right for Guy to head home.

It was all Newcastle now as Guy, Brittain and in particular O'Brien poured forward at every opportunity, the latter in particular tormenting the home defence with his pace.

Just after the hour Brittain unleashed a dipping thirty-yarder that the 'keeper touched away from under his crossbar, that was nothing to his effort in the 77th minute to square the match.

Newcastle had continued to press forward, with O'Brien and Guy prominent and it was the latter who won a free kick in a position just right of centre, some 35 yards from the Boston goal.

Up stepped Brittain to direct a memorable effort round the right hand of the defensive wall, exploiting the fact the Pilgrim's 'keeper had started edging towards the opposite post. An outstanding conversion from distance that looked in as soon as it left his foot and shaded Brit's recent long- ranger at Kingston Park against Blackburn.

Still Newcastle pressed, with Boston increasingly ragged and aimless, especially since the replacement of Redfearn not long before the equaliser.

On 83 minutes the winner looked to have arrived courtesy of Alan O'Brien, who streaked away down the right and worked his way to the byline before pulling the ball back to the waiting Guy.

Sadly the young striker was unable to keep his shot down and blazed it over the crossbar. But in the 89th minute, it was his short ball that released O'Brien and he looked a certain scorer as he raced into the Boston box, only to hit the 'keeper with his shot.

The ball span up as a result and when it came down, there was the figure of Ben Webster to guide it into the roof of the net with his knee, just beyond the despairing jump of a home defender on the line.

The referee added four additional minutes, during which effectively kept the ball, Andy Ferrell reprising the first team captain's role by heading for the corner to run down the clock.

The ten men of the toon held out though, to record a second successive away win. They left the field to the familiar strains of "Local Hero" over the tannoy - an entirely suitable tune for those black and whites in the ground.

It remains to be seen what the composition of both reserve teams over the coming months is, but the lads selected for this game did their club and coach proud and if nothing else will have seen how the other half live – something that should seem them redouble their efforts to make the grade at the highest level.

PS - Just time to mention a pair of ex-Newcastle juniors who have now made their league debuts for their latest clubs.

Ross Gardner became the first of the trio of England youth midfielders who left the club last season to appear in senior football, making the Nottingham Forest first team before club colleague James Beaumont and Neale McDermott down at Fulham.

Two months short of his 18th birthday, Gardner was a 78th minute substitute for Forest as they hit six goals without reply at the City Ground against Wimbledon.

Meanwhile in the Second Division Port Vale recaptured their early season form with a 2-0 home success over QPR, handing goalkeeper Jon Brain a debut between the posts.

For Brain it was a timely appearance, as his future at Vale Park is undecided with him only on a short-term contract. He had appeared for their first team the previous week, but won't have happy memories of the 2-1 giant-killing win by non-league Scarborough in the LDV Trophy. 


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