Xisco scores against Stoke

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Newcastle United Under-21s 5 (Tavernier 37, Xisco 40, 60, 69)
Stoke City Under-21s 1 (Alabi 90)

At a wet, wet Whitley Park, Newcastle United's man from Mallorca enjoyed a rare day in the sun with a well-taken hat-trick in a five-star Magpies display.

Xisco, making only his second appearance in black and white since the summer of 2011, provided a reminder of what he can do as assistant manager John Carver, first-team coach Steve Stone and goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman looked on from the stands as part of a crowd of just 211 lucky supporters.

Willie Donachie and Peter Beardsley's boys had scored five in the reverse fixture at the Britannia Stadium last month and they repeated the feat against an inexperienced Potters side without a first-team appearance between them.

United - whose other goals came from defender James Tavernier and midfielder Mehdi Abeid - by contrast boasted six players with senior football under their belts: the three goalscorers plus Sylvain Marveaux, Adam Campbell and Romain Amalfitano.

And the Magpies' strength told from the fourth minute, when Bradden Inman slipped in Campbell whose strike was turned behind by Austrian keeper Daniel Bachmann.

Three minutes later, Campbell got in a cross for Xisco, who turned but scuffed his effort wide before the same two players combined for the Spaniard to send a header the wrong side of the post.

Young Campbell was at the heart of most things for United in the early exchanges and after stealing the ball from defender Ben Heneghan, he shot straight at the keeper from 12 yards out.

At the other end, Michael Clarkson fed James Alabi but the striker's shot on the turn was weak and too close to Jak Alnwick and moments later Campbell was involved again as Amalfitano teed him up for a powerful drive from the edge of the area which may well have beaten Bachmann had it been either side of him.

The Potters stopper made another save on 21 minutes as Amalfitano burst into the box but saw his effort parried. Play then stopped for several minutes as Wales under-19 international right-back Alex Nicholson was stretchered off to be replaced by Michael Riley, whose uncle Ian Bogie was among the spectators.

United somehow failed to score in the 34th minute when Campbell streaked into the box and slid the ball to Amalfitano, whose shot was blocked but the ball fell to Inman only for his goalbound effort to hit a defender, then seconds later Campbell scampered into the box and cut inside but shot wide.

However the hosts finally went in front on 37 minutes when Campbell sent over a lovely floated cross from the left and James Tavernier rose to send a looping header into the net.

And three minutes later it was two as Amalfitano made good progress on the right before cutting the ball back for Xisco, who drilled expertly home from just inside the penalty area.

The former Deportivo de La Coruna frontman should have doubled his tally moments into the second half as Campbell picked him out with a superb pass but he placed his effort wide of the far post.

Then Campbell and Tavernier set the Spaniard up again but this time although his shot was on target, it lacked the pace to trouble Bachmann.

Clearly gaining in confidence, Xisco then embarked upon a strong, direct run through the centre before laying the ball into the path of Marveaux, whose shot was beaten away by the keeper, before the 26-year-old made it 3-0 with a neat close-range finish from Campbell's right-wing cross.

Campbell hit the side-netting, then as he continued to sparkle the England youth international poked the ball to Abeid, whose blockbuster strike flew wide. And on 67 minutes, Amalfitano's clever flick released the teenager for another strike but he was denied by a fine save from Bachmann, who got down low to push it away.

There was nothing the keeper could do to prevent Xisco from claiming the matchball two minutes later, though, as Inman crossed from the left and the number ten emphatically fired into the net.

That was his last action as he was replaced by Marcus Maddison three minutes later, receiving a grand ovation from the sparse crowd at the home of the Northumberland Football Association.

With eight minutes left, Abeid rattled home the fifth from Maddison's cross - his second goal in successive games - and it was nearly six as Amalfitano dug out a cross to the far post, where Riley's shot was well blocked by the keeper who then held an effort from Abeid.

In the final minute Inman, who hit a hat-trick in the previous meeting, drove narrowly wide and Maddison fired over the bar before Alabi pulled one back, but United deservedly recorded a second successive victory at this level.

Newcastle United Under-21s: Jak Alnwick, Alex Nicholson (Michael Riley 31), Curtis Good, Mehdi Abeid, James Tavernier, Lubo Satka, Sylvain Marveaux, Bradden Inman, Adam Campbell, Xisco (Marcus Maddison 73), Romain Amalfitano

Substitutes: Yven Moyo, Jonathan Mitchell, JJ Hooper

Stoke City Under-21s: Daniel Bachmann, Ben Glasgow, James Campbell, Kris Scott (Jordan Richardson 46), Ben Heneghan, Jordan Keane, Jadan Hall (Luke Coulson 46), Callum Bennett, James Alabi, Michael Clarkson, Andy Musungu

Substitutes: Kalim Rossi, Dale Eve, Immanuel Parry

Andrew Miller

Attendance: 221