Jak Alnwick

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Newcastle United Under-21s 2 (Hooper 33, Maddison 64)
Aston Villa Under-21s 3 (Drennan 30, Burke 35, Carruthers 49)

It was more a case of Super Sunday than Sunday morning football as Newcastle were edged out by Aston Villa in a five-goal thriller at Whitley Park.

Kicking off at 11am on the so-called day of rest, the match survived the icy conditions and the action on show would have warmed the hardy souls who came along, including John Carver, Paul Dummett, Remie Streete and former Newcastle Vipers ice hockey player Spencer Downey, who would have felt at home in the conditions.

After a slow opening to the game, Jak Alnwick was forced to push away a snapshot from Michael Drennan before Dennis Knight's brilliant first-time drive flew inches wide.

Skipper Conor Newton's low shot was then saved by Craig Hill, who gathered the ball at the second attempt before Marcus Maddison's cross was prodded just off target by JJ Hooper.

Then Knight played in Maddison, whose shot was parried by Hill straight to Knight. His effort was blocked and Newton, following up, saw his effort saved by the keeper.

But on the half hour mark, somewhat against the run of play, the visitors took the lead as a long ball caught out the inexperienced United backline and Drennan superbly lofted the ball over the stranded Alnwick.

Parity was restored within two minutes, however, as Maddison's free-kick from the left was touched home by Hooper for his second league goal of the campaign.

A crazy few minutes continued, however, as Villa went straight upfield and were awarded a penalty. Graham Burke was fouled and picked himself up to send Alnwick the wrong way.

Daniel Johnson's low shot was then held by Alnwick but there were no more goals before the break.

However, four minutes into the second half it was 3-1 as Johnson cleverly laid the ball off for Samir Carruthers, who burst into the box, rounded Alnwick and fired home despite the efforts of two men on the line.

United thought they had pulled a goal back within two minutes when Yven Moyo forced the ball towards goal only for it to hit the post and it was hacked off the line despite appearing to have crossed the line.

They struck back in the 64th minute, though, when Michael Riley did well on the left to feed Maddison 22 yards from goal and the winger's low shot was past Hill in a flash.

An important block from Steven Logan denied the livewire Johnson before Knight's half-volley flashed across goal for United.

Burke saw a deflected shot well saved by Alnwick in the 80th minute before the same player was denied by the Magpies keeper after Johnson's inventive ball, but despite some late pressure from the hosts they couldn't force an equaliser.

Newcastle United Under-21s: Jak Alnwick, Steven Logan, Alex Kitchen, Lee Desmond, Michael Riley, Conor Newton (c), Dennis Knight, Brandon Miele, Marcus Maddison, JJ Hooper, Yven Moyo

Subs not used: Jonathan Mitchell, Jonathyn Quinn, Alex Gilliead

Aston Villa Under-21s: Craig Hill, Josh Barton, Liam Bateman, Daniel Johnson (c), Janoi Danacien, Josh Webb, Jordan Graham, Samir Carruthers, Michael Drennan, Graham Burke, Andras Steiber (Jack Grealish 65)

Subs not used: Calum Barrett, Malcolm Melvin, Mason Watkins, Riccardo Calder

Referee: Iain Turner