By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Newcastle United Under-21s 4 (Obertan 3, 48, 77, Aarons 26)
Crystal Palace Under-21s 0
Gabriel Obertan scored a clinical hat-trick as Newcastle United made it nine Barclays Under-21 Premier League games unbeaten with a comfortable win over Crystal Palace at St. James' Park.
Former Manchester United man Obertan was named in a strong starting XI by Willie Donachie and Peter Beardsley, who also included James Tavernier, Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano while Palace fielded recent signing Aruna Dindane and the likes of Kwesi Appiah and Matthew Parsons, who have both played first-team football for the Eagles.
Jamaican teenager Rolando Aarons was also on target but it was skipper Obertan who proved the difference with a well-taken treble in front of 478 supporters.
It took just three minutes for the Frenchman to open the scoring as Amalfitano's intelligent pass with the outside of his boot from just inside his own half found him racing clear of the defence and he finished smartly past David Gregory.
Ryan Innis sent a looping header narrowly over from Harim Boateng's right-wing free-kick in the 17th minute before Ibra Sekajja darted towards goal only to see Lubo Satka bravely block his shot.
Boateng then dragged a low shot narrowly wide, although Jak Alnwick always had it covered, before Tavernier brought the ball out from defence and drove straight at Gregory from the edge of the area.
Then Bigirimana's piledriver hit the midriff of Inniss before, after a sustained spell of United pressure, Aarons made it 2-0 with his second goal at this level.
His first came at Selhurst Park in February and his second came against the same opponents as the 17-year-old from Kingston curled home a delightful effort.
Palace nearly responded when Sulaiman Kaikai turned and shot inside the box but Alnwick saved well low to his right, then the pacy Sekajja cut inside before firing off target.
But just three minutes into the second half, Obertan got his second of the night as he raced in on goal, drew Gregory and slotted past him despite the keeper getting a touch on his shot.
Neat work from Amalfitano and Obertan led to Gilliead having an effort blocked before, in the 57th minute, Appiah robbed Tavernier to go clean through but side-footed wide with only Alnwick to beat.
Obertan then streaked down the left and cut the ball back to Amalfitano, who diverted the ball over, while at the other end Alex Wynter bent the ball just wide of the far post.
Substitute Jonathyn Quinn twice sent shots too close to Gregory, then saw an effort diverted over after great work from Obertan.
The ex-Bordeaux man - wearing the famous number nine shirt - claimed the matchball in the 77th minute with a goal almost identical to his first two as he outstripped the backline before casually stroking the ball into the net.
And he almost got a fourth in the 81st minute as he popped up inside the box only for Gregory to deny him before Palace were denied a late consolation as Alnwick kept out Harim Boateng's curler with three minutes to go.
Newcastle United Under-21s: Jak Alnwick, Kevin Mbabu (Alex Nicholson 76), Lee Desmond, James Tavernier, Lubo Satka, Rolando Aarons (Jonathyn Quinn 65), Gael Bigirimana, Brandon Miele, Alex Gilliead, Gabriel Obertan (c), Romain Amalfitano
Subs not used: Jonathan Mitchell, Macaulay Gillesphey, Steven Logan
Crystal Palace Under-21s: David Gregory, Aaron Akuruka, Matthew Parsons, Connor Dymond, Alex Wynter (c), Ryan Inniss, Ibra Sekajja, Harim Boateng, Kwesi Appiah (Marcel Henry-Francis 78), Aruna Dindane (Kadell Daniel 78), Sulaiman Kaikai (Matthew Marriot 65)
Subs not used: Thomas King, Quade Taylor