By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Willie Donachie praised his players for the way they coped with a late reshuffle in Monday night's under-21 derby clash against Sunderland.
Slovakian defender Lubo Satka picked up an ankle injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced by left-back Michael Riley in the starting line-up, and that meant midfielder Conor Newton had to fill in at centre-back with Yven Moyo moving into midfield.
Added to that, Nile Ranger was only able to play 70 minutes in what was his first appearance of the season following injury so Donachie was proud of the way his side adapted at the Stadium of Light.
Ranger's early goal was cancelled out by Connor Wickham's close-range finish but Bradden Inman restored Newcastle's advantage and it took a stoppage time strike from Craig Lynch to earn the Black Cats a share of the spoils.
And Reserve Team Manager Donachie told nufc.co.uk: "I said to them that it was a great performance considering that we had Nile who couldn't play the whole game and Lubo pulled out in the warm-up so Conor was playing central defence and Steve Logan right-back.
"It was a disrupted team; Yven had to move into midfield - and this is 15 minutes before the kick-off. So considering all that, it was a really good performance and it was very disappointing to let that goal in at the end."
Even at second-string level, there was a great atmosphere for the Tyne-Wear derby and a crowd of 1,773.
And Donachie said: "That should lift them. I said before the game, if they're not motivated for this then they won't be motivated for anything. We shouldn't have to do it for them and they responded pretty well.
"They were a little bit nervous at the start but we were hitting them on the break with our pace - Brad, Nile, Marcus (Maddison), JJ (Hooper) and they struggled with that.
"It was a good experience playing in front of a crowd, at a nice stadium, on a great pitch against good players - England under-21 internationals like Connor Wickham and so on.
"It's a great experience for people like Curtis (Good), who I thought was outstanding. They all did well but I thought Curtis and Brad were very good.
"But it was just disappointing not to win so late in the game."
Donachie was pleased, however, to see Ranger mark his first Newcastle appearance since March with a goal.
"It's great for him and for the club to get him fit again," he said.
"And it's good for our under-21 team - it's just about him keeping fit, working hard and getting stronger."