By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
For the second Barclays Under-21 Premier League fixture running, Willie Donachie was forced into a late tactical reshuffle and he admitted that didn't help his side against Aston Villa on Sunday morning.
Just as he did before the game at Sunderland two weeks ago, teenage defender Lubo Satka picked up an injury in the warm-up and so Irish full-back Lee Desmond was pressed into service at centre-back.
It was still a close affair between Newcastle and the Villans, who have enjoyed some great battles in recent months including the final of last summer's Citibank Hong Kong Football Club International Soccer Sevens tournament, which was won by the Magpies.
But on this occasion United lost 3-2 and Donachie, who was already without the likes of Remie Streete, Adam Campbell, Mehdi Abeid, Nile Ranger and Alex Nicholson due to injury and first-team call-ups, was disappointed not to repeat October's second-string win at Villa Park.
"They're a good team," the Reserve Team Manager told nufc.co.uk. "They're always organised, they know their jobs and they're honest, decent players but I thought today was a great chance to beat them. Things just didn't go for us and that includes someone getting injured five minutes before kick-off.
"He had a groin strain. It was his birthday today and he was desperate to play; he's just a kid and he was so desperate to play that he didn't tell anybody until the last minute. Then he realised he couldn't play so it's frustrating for him and for everybody.
"It was literally five minutes before kick-off and it's a shame because Lubo's a good player - one our our better players - and Lee Desmond played yesterday for the Academy. He did outstanding considering that but it meant we had three Academy players and a third year playing in the back four.
"So it's very difficult to get them organised. It's a great experience for them but it's just frustrating after dominating the first half we gave two quite cheap goals away through inexperience at the back, and then it's very hard.
"I thought they all gave their best and tried hard - it's just frustrating to give stupid goals away and lose the game again."
But Donachie was heartened by the appearance on the scoresheet of JJ Hooper and Marcus Maddison after the pair signed work experience loans with Darlington and Blyth Spartans respectively last month.
The deal allows them to play for the non-league outfits and Newcastle's under-21 side and Michael Riley is set to complete a similar move to join Maddison at Blyth in the next few days.
Hooper and Maddison have both played once each for their temporary teams and Donachie believes they are already beginning to reap the benefits.
"I hope so," he said. "They've not played so many games yet; because we had a game today, they obviously didn't play yesterday but I'm sure it will be good in the long run.
"Playing against men in a competitive league has got to be good for both of them. I believe Marcus did quite well last week for Blyth and both of them, and Michael Riley, I hope get experience like that soon."