Nathan Harker

By Dominic Scurr


Newcastle United Under-18s 1 (Longstaff)

Norwich City Under-18s 1 (Couzens)

Newcastle United Under-18s suffered a late blow at Little Benton on Saturday as Norwich City snatched a 1-1 draw.

The young Magpies came within seven minutes of grabbing their first victory of 2016 after Sean Longstaff had put them ahead in the first half.

But a rebounded penalty from George Couzens in the 83rd minute saw the Canaries head back to Norfolk with a point.

Both sides would have been looking to win the game after losing their opening Barclays Under-18s Premier League Play-off fixtures and it was United who started the stronger.

However, the hosts struggled to open up the Norwich defence in the early stages as the Little Benton crowd witnessed an uneventful first half-hour.

But the Magpies soon found the breakthrough with what was their first real chance of the game as Callum Smith charged down the left and cut the ball back to Longstaff, who side-footed into an open net.

Just over a minute later and Newcastle came close to doubling their lead as full-back Craig Spooner burst into the Canaries' box and his eventual effort was kept out by a strong right hand from Norwich 'keeper Marcus Beauchamp.

A great ball from Longstaff just before half-time played in Smith but Beauchamp was there once more to deny the hosts.

The second half proved to be more of the same as chances where few and far between for both sides.

It wasn't until the hour mark when Owen Bailey headed Longstaff's free-kick just wide of the left-hand post for the first chance of the second period.

At the other end, Norwich winger Giovanni da Costa had a great chance to equalise as he broke through but couldn't find the target.

Norwich enjoyed the majority of possession as they pushed men forward in search of an equaliser but struggled to create any clear-cut chances.

And that left the visitors exposed at the back as the Magpies remained a threat on the counter, with Bailey breaking away from defence but failing to find the crucial pass to release Mackenzie Heaney.

With just under ten minutes remaining, Newcastle had a golden opportunity to seal the win as Dan Lowther broke away with Smith, Longstaff and Heaney offering support, but the winger opted for an audacious long-range chip which was brilliantly clawed onto the bar by Beauchamp.

And the Magpies would be made to rue their missed chances as a few minutes later Norwich won a penalty after Yannick Aziakonou brought down fellow substitute Kieran Higgs inside the area.

Couzens stepped up to take the resulting penalty, which United stopper Nathan Harker did brilliantly to tip onto the upright, but Couzens reacted quickest and turned in the rebound to level things up.

Despite suffering that late blow, the home side continued to search for a winner as Heaney saw his effort palmed wide by Beauchamp moments before the 16-year-old forward had an effort cleared off the line by Canaries' full-back Louis Ramsay.

But the game ended level and Dave Watson's side will be looking to build on their point next weekend at Stoke City.


Newcastle United Under-18s (4-2-3-1): Nathan Harker; Craig Spooner, Owen Bailey (c), Gideon Adu-Peprah, Ben Kitchen (Yannick Aziakonou 65); Dan Ward (Stefan Broccoli 46), Oliver Long; Dan Lowther, Sean Longstaff, Callum Smith; Mackenzie Heaney

Subs not used: Ben Smith, Kelland Watts, Thomas Allan


Norwich City Under-18s (4-4-1-1): Marcus Beauchamp; Louis Ramsay, Owen Wallis, Callum Ellesley, Toby Syme (c); Devonte Aransibia, Henry Pollock, Bilial Kamal (Emersson Sambi 73), Giovanni da Costa (Kieran Higgs 68); Louis McIntosh (Diallang Jaiyesimi 61); George Couzens

Sub not used: Fergal Hale-Brown