Peter Beardsley

By Dan King at Stadio G. Di Luppo, Santa Maria a Monte, Italy

Peter Beardsley refused to use the state of the Stadio G. Di Luppo pitch as an excuse as Newcastle's Development Squad were held to a 2-2 draw by Paraguayan outfit Club Nacional.

The stalemate, played out on a surface barely fit to grace the Newcastle Central Sunday League, means United are unlikely to qualify from Group Eight in the Torneo di Viareggio.

Melanio Baez gave the South Americans the lead before Paul Dummett and an own goal saw Newcastle gain the initiative until Cesar Antonio Verdun's second-half lob levelled matters.

But Beardsley is not giving up hope of reaching the last 16 of the Tuscany tournament, knowing that a convincing victory over Lecce on Saturday afternoon could still be enough depending on results elsewhere.

"The pitch was poor, but it's the same for both teams," former England internartional Beardsley told nufc.co.uk. "I've never, ever complained about facilities, equipment or the quality of a pitch - and I'm not going to start now.

"Going 1-0 down early and then recovering the way we did, I was quite confident we were going to win the game at half-time, so it was disappointing in the end.

"We said from day one it was a learning experience for them and hopefully they will learn certain things, but ultimately it was disappointing.

"Club Nacional had a lot of ability - most Paraguayans have, and we had Diego Gavillan at Newcastle, who had a lot of ability. But I'm disappointed with the way we played overall.

"I thought we played better in the first game, strangely, even though we lost."

Beardsley has challenged his young players to restore some pride by picking up three points in their final group game.

United have one point, as do Lecce, while Club Nacional have two and Fiorentina have six. If Fiorentina beat Club Nacional, a win for The Magpies would see them finish second in their group - but only the four best runners up go through.

"We still go into Saturday hoping to win and then hoping to survive," said Beardsley. "But it is looking less and less likely.

"The lads will want to get a bit of pride back and win a game. If you get four points out of a group with Fiorentina - who have won the competition more times than anyone else - in it, that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

"We have to beat Lecce but if we do, hopefully that'll give us second place in the group and then we'll see what happens."