Lee Desmond in action against Gateshead

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Newcastle United Under-18s 3
Gateshead Under-19s 3

Newcastle's Academy side kicked off their pre-season campaign with a thrilling draw against Gateshead's youngsters on Wednesday morning.

United's starting XI for the practice match at Little Benton comprised mainly of first year scholars, including Rolando Aarons, James Morgan, Ryan McKinnon and Liam Smith, while midfielder Liam Henderson made his first appearance since suffering a knee injury 18 months ago.

Wearing illuminous bibs so as not to clash with the Heed's white kit, Newcastle were ahead inside two minutes as Slovakian defender Lubo Satka prodded home from a set-piece and it should have been two when Greg Olley side-footed wide from close range after Henderson's shot was saved.

On the half-hour mark, Gateshead equalised through centre-back Jack Lilley, who had came up for a corner and headed past Freddie Woodman before both sides made several changes at the interval.

After Satka had been denied a second by a clearance off the line at one end, Leon Watson bundled the visitors in front before Dan Taggart made it 3-1 to the Heed from Ryan King's superb right-wing cross.

But Alex Gilliead pulled one back with a fine solo goal as he streaked down the left before cutting inside and finishing smartly and then substitute Adam Armstrong - called up for an England under-16 training camp next month - sent a low 30-yard drive into the net to cap a lively showing.

In the final minute, Gateshead were given a chance to win the game as Satka was penalised for a clumsy challenge in the box but Woodman - who had already made two fantastic saves in the second period - fell to his right to parry Watson's spot-kick.