By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Newcastle United Under-18s 1 (Maddison)
Barnsley Under-18s 0
It took a gritty - and at times not particularly pretty - performance, but Newcastle United were crowned champions of the Premier Academy League Group D after a 1-0 win over Barnsley.
Marcus Maddison's goal - his second in successive games - proved to be the difference at Little Benton as Dave Watson's side ensured that they can no longer be caught by second-placed Leeds going into the final week of the season.
The Magpies will now take on Middlesbrough on Saturday with the title already secured, before going into the national play-offs next month. However, despite having three goals disallowed it needed a backs to the wall display in the second half to earn the three points.
JJ Hooper had the ball in the net inside the opening 12 seconds as United attacked straight from the kick-off with the striker slotting home expertly - only for the assistant referee's flag to cut short his celebrations.
Ten minutes later, Steven Logan placed his shot just the wrong side of the post before Hooper had a low effort easily saved by Joe Martin.
The Tykes came back into the game, however, as Jordan Clark flashed one attempt inches wide of the far post before shooting straight at Newcastle custodian Jonathan Mitchell shortly afterwards.
And on 31 minutes, the goal which proved so decisive arrived. Brandon Miele - scorer of the late winner against Liverpool three days earlier - slotted the ball through for Maddison who coolly took the ball around Martin and steered the ball into the empty net.
Barnsley had justifiable appeals for a penalty three minutes later as Sam Patterson went down under the challenge of Alex Kitchen, but those claims were waved away before Clark came close for a third time, his skimming shot rebounding off the outside of the post.
Then came the hosts' second disallowed goal, with Maddison prodding home from Miele's left-wing free-kick but ruled offside.
With ex-England defender Watson keen for his players to see the game out, there were few opportunities in the second period although Rhys Oates came close, with his attempted lob floating just too high.
Substitute Ryan McGorrigan put the ball in the net with a dinked finish but once again, it didn't count and so it was a nervy final few minutes for the Magpies.
Mitchell made a vital save from Brad Abbott, then kept out Matty Steade at the second attempt after the left-back's initial attempt had stung the Hartlepool-born shot-stopper's palms.
With five minutes to go, Danny Rose blazed over from 12 yards but Newcastle held on to become champions at this level for the first time since 2005.
Newcastle United Under-18s: Jonathan Mitchell, Alex Nicholson, Louis Storey (c), Alex KItchen, Michael Hoganson, Alex Gilliead (Dan Taylor 77), Ben Sayer, Brandon Miele (Dennis Knight 68), Steven Logan, Marcus Maddison, JJ Hooper (Ryan McGorrigan 57)
Subs not used: Alex Baird, Will Turton