By Tom Easterby
Peter Beardsley wasn't too disheartened with his young side's performance as the Magpies suffered a 2-0 loss at Gateshead on Friday night.
Newcastle United's Football Development Manager saw his inexperienced team shot down by first-half strikes from Marcus Maddison and Greg McDermott at Gateshead International Stadium.
However, the United hero highlighted the quality of the Skrill Premier side, who narrowly failed in their bid to gain promotion to the Football League last season, losing 2-0 to Cambridge United in the play-off final at Wembley.
"We're a young team," explained Beardsley, with the oldest player in the Magpies' squad being 23-year-old full-back Shane Ferguson.
"Obviously there's certain things that you're not happy with but I wouldn't say very disappointing - they're a good team, they almost got promotion."
The 53-year-old told nufc.co.uk that pre-season for his youthful charges is about regaining match fitness just as much as racking up victories, and said the stern physical test provided by the Heed will stand his side in good stead going forward.
"It's a bit of both really," he said.
"Obviously we want to play well, but we need to run around and we need to get fit, and the quicker we get fit, the better we'll be.
"It's only our second game of pre-season. They were outstanding, to be fair - Gary Mills has got a great team there and he knows that scene very well, and he proved it tonight.
"We'll get used to the physical side of things. A lot of them won't have played at this level in terms of a competitive game before so in that sense, we're not too disappointed.
"We always look at ourselves but, to be fair to the kids, they probably got outmuscled, but Gateshead played some good football as well."
Beardsley also reserved special praise for long-serving Gateshead defender James Curtis, who helped his side to victory in his testimonial match.
The 32-year-old centre-half, who is the club's record appearance holder having appeared in 506 league games, has been a regular since signing for the Heed back in 2003.
"(To play) over 500 games is amazing, and the thing that makes it extra special is that he's a top person," enthused Beardsley. "You meet a lot of people that do a lot of special things, but he's been here a long time and he's a great person.
"He's been different class. He was good with us tonight in terms of the way he was around the place. It's not easy - I'm lucky that I've been in that position where I've had a testimonial, and there are so many things that can go wrong, but he was top class."
PHOTO BY STEVEN WHITE