the academy and reserve teams continue with their busy domestic programmes,
three of our younger players have swapped the autumnal conditions of the North
East for the rather more temperate surroundings of the United Arab Emirates.
The United trio of Michael Chopra, Steven Taylor and David Edgar have been
selected to represent their country in the World Youth Championships currently
being stayed by FIFA, rescheduled from March of this year due to the political
situation in Iraq.
Despite being eligible to play, Jermaine Jenas wasn’t selected by England,
being deemed too important to his club to be spared for this tournament, along
with the likes of Wayne Rooney. However, there were no such problems with
Chopra’s availability, given his inability to break into our first team pool
on a regular basis and some forgettable displays for the reserve side.
Meanwhile, defender Steven Taylor was selected to maintain his
ahead-of-schedule progress through the international age groups, at 17 being
one of the youngest players to be selected by any nation for this tournament.
A year younger though is another defender, David Edgar of Canada. The son of
former Magpies goalkeeper Eddie has made just one non-playing appearance in a
club reserve side this season, but earned his place in the national team squad
after showing good form for club and country since being converted from a
midfielder by Newcastle.
While Edgar sat out Canada’s 2-0 loss to Brazil, Chopra and Taylor were in
the England side that kicked off their campaign in dispiriting style while our
first team were drawing with Wolves. A 1-0 defeat at the hands of Japan could
have been averted had Chopra’s lively contribution and shooting been turned
into goals, but the Newcastle man will hope for more luck against Egypt and
Newcastle almost had a fourth representative at the finals, only for Republic
of Ireland defender Stephen Brennan to recover from a shoulder problem
sustained while playing for our reserves and promptly pick up a leg injury
that saw him ruled out of contention.
Meanwhile back home, Brian Eastick’s Academy side seem now to have recovered
from the recent loss of form, registering consecutive victories on the road at
Derby and Barnsley in recent weeks, after a depressing run in which they came
off second best to their counterparts from Sheffield United, Leeds and
Inclement weather conditions couldn’t prevent the young Magpies from
registering a 2-0 victory over the Rams on their first visit to the new Derby
County Academy base, with strikers Guy Bates and Carl Finnigan both on target
for their eighth and third league goals of the campaign respectively.
And Ashington-born Bates was on target again the following Friday, as a good
team performance from the first whistle paved the way for a deserved 4-2
victory at the Oakwell Academy of Barnsley, whose youth set-up remains
superior to some Premiership sides, despite the decline of the first team.
However on a chilly afternoon in South Yorkshire, Bates was outshone in the
goalscoring stakes by his South African team mate Matty Pattison, the
peroxide-blonde midfielder opening the scoring with a shot and then grabbing
our final goal with a well-directed header. In between, Bates converted with a
net first-time volley after a Ben Webster cross and a Barnsley defender put
the ball past his own keeper after Marc Walton’s run into the home area had
Further goals could have been converted, with Walton making a surging run from
halfway and drawing the ‘keeper, only to blaze his shot over the bar. The
Blakelaw-born striker has only returned to the side in recent weeks after a
three-month spell on the sidelines through injury, and is understandably still
searching for form and fitness.
At the time of writing, the U19 lads have three games remaining before their
seasonal break, with Nottingham Forest visiting Little Benton and a trip to
high-flying Sheffield United that we’ll do well to get anything from. Before
that though, there’s an even longer journey to their next game, as the FA
Youth Cup comes around once more and we have to travel all the way to Fratton
Park to take on Portsmouth.
Our recent record in this competition is woeful, with exits at the first time
of asking to Manchester United, Norwich and Crystal Palace (after a replay) in
the last three seasons. It was back in 1999/00 that we last won a game in the
competition, when successes against Millwall, Wycombe and the mackems (again
requiring a second game) were followed by a 2-1 reverse on Smogside, our goal
that night coming from Kevin Gall, now knocking them in for Division Three
newcomers Yeovil Town.
player who featured in last season’s Third Round exit to Manchester United
was our 18 year-old striker Calvin Zola (who appears to have dropped the
Makongo bit if his name recently.) Our second, less-well-known import of the
Democratic Republic of Congo is currently ahead of his more high-profile
compatriot Lomana LuaLua in this season’s goalscoring charts, having notched
six goals in his seventeen loan appearances to date for Division Two side
Eyebrows were raised both on Tyne & Wear and in Lancashire when Latics
‘boss Iain Dowie secured Calvin’s services on what became a season-long
loan after witnessing his two goals in a reserve game against Everton.
However, Zola has adjusted to the demands of league football rather more
quickly than many bystanders expected and appears to be well thought of at
while silverware at a national level continues to elude us, we can at least
pick up the odd trinket locally and for a change, our reserves managed to win
something other than the Northumberland Senior Cup. It
may not have been in the Nou Camp, but Bobby Robson was watching from the
director's box at Millfield as we captured the Barcelona Cup against Northern
League amateurs Crook Town in mid-November.
Former United defender
and SKY Masters veteran, Kevin Scott, lined up for Crook Town and completed
the full match as a decent crowd of 1,000 plus turned out on a fine night to
see Tommy Craig’s side register a 10-1 success.
Leading the way was in-form Lewis Guy who scored four, while both Alan O'Brien
and Darren Ambrose picked up a pair each. Efforts from Kris Gate, Martin
Brittain and an own goal took United into double figures as they claimed
the trophy won by Durham City last season while Andy Morris beat Adam Bartlett
from the penalty spot to get the home side in on the scoring act.
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