By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Under-18s Coach Dave Watson has reflected on a successful season which saw his Toon teenagers lift the Premier Academy League Group D title and reach the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup.
Despite losing to Blackburn in the national play-off semi-finals to decide the overall Academy champions earlier this month, it was a great effort from the Magpies who led their section for nearly the entire campaign.
Chelsea (4-3), Manchester City (3-2), Liverpool (3-2) and Sunderland (4-0) were all beaten by the next generation of Newcastle players before Rovers edged them out by two goals to nil in the play-off encounter in Lancashire.
Blackburn also ended United's interest in the Youth Cup on penalties, before going on to reach the final of the competition, but United enjoyed some great moments along the way including a 3-0 win over Darlington and victories over Watford and QPR, all at the Sports Direct Arena.
The likes of Marcus Maddison, Steven Logan and Alex Kitchen broke through into the Reserve set-up on a regular basis towards the end of the term while Adam Campbell, Remie Streete, JJ Hooper and Dennis Knight all shone before injuries ruled them out of crucial games in the run-in.
"Considering the injuries we picked up to key players in the team, the rest of the squad really dug in and we picked up some really good results which enabled us to win the league," said Watson, who joined the club from Wigan in November.
"Coming into the last game against Blackburn in the semi-final play-off, we really had ran out of players and we were scrapping to put a team together. But the lads gave their all, they gave their best and it'll stand them in good stead for next year for the lads who are still here."