By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Southampton Under-21s 5 (Lee, Hoskins 2, Reeves 2)
Newcastle United Under-21s 1 (Campbell)
Adam Campbell scored on his return after almost two months out of action with a knee injury, but Newcastle's under-21s were heavily beaten by Southampton at the Silverlake Stadium home of Eastleigh Town.
Willie Donachie and Peter Beardsley ensured that their players prepared well for the final second-string fixture of 2012 as they flew to the South Coast on Monday morning, but their wings were well and truly clipped by the Saints, who needed a win to secure a place in the Elite Group Stage of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League when it splits in the new year.
The Magpies, meanwhile, will play in Tier Two - a disappointing outcome after starting the season with two emphatic victories against Tottenham and Stoke.
Southampton included a host of players with senior experience including the highly-rated James Ward-Prowse, Japanese international Tandanari Lee, defender Jack Stephens, midfielders Ben Reeves and Calum Chambers and striker Sam Hoskins.
For United, Campbell began on the bench following his long lay-off but Romain Amalfitano and Mehdi Abeid both started but the Saints started off on top with Reeves hitting a post and Lee shooting just wide.
Newcastle hit back, though, with JJ Hooper heading over from Maddison's corner and then Amalfitano seeing his shot blocked by Stephens and on the 23rd minute, the home side went ahead through Lee, who forced home from close range.
And four minutes later it was two as Hoskins beat Jak Alnwick from 30 yards. United's response was to introduce Campbell just after the half hour mark but little over a minute into the second period, Southampton had a third when Reeves finished off a neat passing move.
A great save from Alnwick then denied Hoskins and Campbell pulled one back when his long-range strike took a deflection to loop into the net and the Magpies briefly threatened to force their way back into the game.
But Hoskins' second of the evening put paid to those hopes and Alnwick then had to save well from Jake Sinclair twice either side of a Campbell effort which went narrowly off target. However the Newcastle keeper could do nothing to keep out Reeves who got his brace in the final minute.
Newcastle United Under-21s: Jack Alnwick, Steven Logan, Alex Kitchen, Curtis Good, Michael Riley, Brandon Miele, Dennis Knight (Adam Campbell 31), Mehdi Abeid, Marcus Maddison, JJ Hooper, Romain Amalfitano
Subs not used: Jonathan Mitchell, Lee Desmond, Alex Gilliead
Photograph courtesy of Southampton FC