By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At Whitley Park
Newcastle United Reserves 0
Arsenal Reserves 1 (Eisfeld 17)
Despite dominating the second half, Newcastle Reserves slipped to their fourth consecutive Barclays Premier Reserve League defeat in front of John Carver at Whitley Park.
Thomas Eisfeld gave the Gunners the lead midway through a first period which the visitors shaded, but after the break it was a different story.
Jeff Henderson, Michael Richardson, Phil Airey and Ryan Donaldson all came agonisingly close to equalising for the Magpies, whose performance will have nonetheless pleased Willie Donachie.
It was a far cry from their last two performances against Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, and a similar display against Manchester United next Monday, allied with better finishing, could well see them win for the first time since January.
SECOND HALF UPDATES
90+2mins: It's finished and Arsenal are the winners, but Newcastle really didn't deserve to lose after creating a whole host of opportunities in the second half against a slick Gunners outfit.
90mins: There will be two minutes of stoppage time for United to try and get the goal they need, but Arsenal almost clinch it with Hector Bellerin forcing Alnwick into another fine save from ten yards out.
86mins: Michael Richardson comes the closest any player has to a Newcastle goal as he connects sweetly with Patrick Nzuzi's right-wing corner but his effort crashes back off the angle of post and bar. Newcastle have created so many chances in this second half but somehow haven't made a breakthrough. This has been the best performance from Willie Donachie's side for some time, particularly on the strength of this showing in the second period - can they get the leveller they deserve?
84mins: Martin Angha forces Alnwick into a smart save as Arsenal try to kill the game off.
82mins: In Arsenal's final change of the night, Josh Rees comes off and Nigel Nieta replaces him.
80mins: Two amazing goal-line clearances from Oguzhan Ozyakup keep Liverpool ahead. First, Airey's effort from Maddison's corner is hacked clear by the midfielder, then Donaldson follows up with a powerful volley which is headed from underneath his own crossbar by the Gunners youngster.
79mins: Steven Logan, who has won plenty of challenges in midfield, makes way for Academy colleague Brandon Miele for the final 11 minutes.
77mins: Jordan Wynter replaces Eisfeld in Arsenal's second change.
75mins: Having withstood plenty of pressure, the Gunners are beginning to come back into this and when Kyle Ebecilio pokes the ball through for Eisfeld, the striker really should get his second of the night. However, he drives his effort across goal and wide - a let-off for the Magpies.
73mins: Arsenal fashion an opening as Hector Bellerin makes progress down the right and crosses only for Alex Kitchen to intercept his dangerous cross. The ball falls for Bellerin again, though, and this time the full-back shoots but scuffs it wide of the near post from 16 yards.
72mins: Maddison hits a shot from 20 yards and it's a good one, too, but it zips just over the bar. It's been virtually all Newcastle since the restart, after the visitors dominated possession in the first 45 minutes, but the Magpies still have no goal to show for it.
69mins: Airey steps up to take a free-kick for United but curls it too high. Then moments later, he's put through in the left-hand area of the box but can only shoot straight at Shea from an admittedly difficult angle.
65mins: Arsenal make their first change of the game as Philip Roberts replaces Conor Henderson.
64mins: Richardson pokes a clever ball over the top of the defence which Taylor hits first time, but volleys over. This has been a great second half display from the Magpies. with ex-player Mick Martin looking on from the sidelines and no doubt impressed with what he's seen.
63mins: Substitute Maddison makes space for a cross with some deft footwork on the left and then sends an inviting cross for Jeff Henderson, who dives in at the far post but sends his header across goal. You wouldn't expect to see the defender up there, but having been in that position he perhaps should have scored.
53mins: Taylor's low cutback from the right finds Donaldson, who jinks inside his man and lefts fly from 15 yards but fires narrowly over the top. Newcastle have been well on top in this second period.
51mins: The dangerous Donaldson sends over a wonderful inswinging cross which just needs a touch to take it in, but Airey and Taylor both try and fail to connect as another decent Magpies opportunity goes begging at the start of this second period.
49mins: So nearly an equaliser for the Magpies - in fact Gunners keeper James Shea must have thought it was as the midfielder's superb low strike hit the side-netting, having gone inches wide. He had time to weigh up his effort and it was very close.
48mins: From a Ryan Donaldson corner from the left, Jeff Henderson gets in a looping header but it drops just over the bar as Newcastle look to start the second half well.
46mins: Willie Donachie makes one change at the break with Marcus Maddison replacing Yven Moyo and Newcastle get the second half underway.
FIRST HALF UPDATES
45+1mins: It's half-time and Arsenal lead thanks to Thomas Eisfeld's goal. The Gunners have knocked the ball around well but neither team has created much. Nonetheless, it's been interesting to watch and it's still anybody's game.
45mins: There'll be just the one minute of stoppage time at the end of this first period.
43mins: Eisfeld almost gets his name on the scoresheet for a second time as he stabs the ball goalwards from eight yards, only for Alnwick to produce a flying save to his right to keep it out.
34mins: The crowd's not the biggest tonight, but among those watching are Academy players JJ Hooper, Lee Desmond and Adam Campbell, coach Kevin Richardson, Gateshead boss Ian Bogie and former United winger Paul Stephenson. They're being treated to a decent enough game, too, albeit one without too many chances.
30mins: Ozyakup's left-wing corner for the Gunners is met by a thumping header from skipper Ignasi Miguel, who is the only visiting player to have represented Arsenal's first-team, only for the ball to cannon back off the bar with Alnwick beaten all ends up.
27mins: Airey plays a lovely pass for strike partner Dan Taylor to run onto, but keeper James Shea races from his goal and just manages to get to the ball first, some way out of his box, before clearing. If Taylor had been a yard faster, he'd have surely taken that around the onrushing keeper and he'd have been presented with an empty net.
17mins: ARSENAL GOAL (0-1): A low cross from the right is controlled by frontman Thomas Eisfeld, who then finishes neatly on the turn to open the scoring in what had been an even game up until now.
15mins: After two chances in the first three minutes, there has been little in the way of goalmouth incident since but after a raking ball from Jeff Henderson, Phil Airey races clear but from a tight angle the striker drags his effort wide of the near post.
3mins: Chances at both ends as first Oguzhan Ozyakup drives across goal from the left-hand edge of the box, only for Jak Alnwick to touch it wide at full stretch, then from Dan Taylor's flick Phil Airey is just off target with a first-time effort.
1min: With both sides in their home kits, Arsenal get us underway on a light evening at Whitley Park. John Carver is in the stand, as are dozens of scouts from far and wide.
Newcastle United Reserves: Jak Alnwick, Patrick Nzuzi, Alex Kitchen, Jeff Henderson (c), Michael Riley, Michael Richardson, Steven Logan (Brandon Miele 79), Ryan Donaldson, Phil Airey, Dan Taylor, Yven Moyo (Marcus Maddison 46)
Subs not used: Jonathan Mitchell, Louis Storey, Alex Nicholson
Arsenal Reserves: James Shea, Hector Bellerin, Martin Angha, Kyle Ebecilio, Danny Boateng, Ignasi Miguel (c), Josh Rees (Nigel Neita 82), Oguzhan Ozyakup, Thomas Eisfeld (Jordan Wynter 77), Conor Henderson (Philip Roberts 65), Jernade Meade
Subs not used: Reice Charles-Cook, Elton Monteiro
Referee: Joseph Buglass