By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Everton Under-21s 3 (McAleny, Naismith, Lundstram)
Newcastle United Under-21s 3 (Ameobi, Inman, Richardson)
Everton win 5-3 on penalties
Newcastle United suffered penalty heartache as they were beaten on penalties after a thrilling Barclays Under-21 Premier League play-off at Goodison Park.
On their return to Merseyside, former Toffees assistant boss Willie Donachie and ex-player Peter Beardsley will have been proud of the young Magpies but it was the Blues who booked a trip to Elite section champions Tottenham.
After a goalless first half, Sammy Ameobi put Newcastle in front but Conor McAleny and Steven Naismith looked to have won it for the Blues. However, Bradden Inman forced extra time and Michael Richardson fired United ahead as David Moyes looked on from the stand. But John Lundstram's late, late effort meant spot-kicks were required and Gael Bigirimana's miss proved crucial.
Ameobi was named in the starting XI after returning from his loan spell at Middlesbrough and joined Bigirimana and James Tavernier in boasting senior experience. Young defender Macaulay Gillesphey was handed his full debut and was assured throughout.
Everton threatened first as McAleny's strong run ended in the striker dragging his effort wide before United had appeals for a penalty turned down when Kevin Mbabu's header from Brandon Miele's cross appeared to strike the hand of John Stones.
After 15 minutes, Ameobi tricked his way past Ross Barkley but his shot from 25 yards was poor and from then on it was all Everton for the rest of the first half.
Jak Alnwick made a superb save to deny Naismith from point blank range after Matthew Kennedy's left-wing free-kick, then the goalkeeper made another fine stop as he pushed McAleny's low shot away after a flowing Toffees move.
McAleny then turned provider, poking the ball through to Chris Long who should have done better than shoot wide, then Barkley fired over from a decent position before Bryan Oviedo cut inside but saw his effort hit the side-netting.
Barkley then spun away from Miele and carried the ball forward before shooting from a narrow angle, but Alnwick fielded comfortably to ensure Newcastle went in level at the break.
It was a different United after the restart, however, as they started brightly - Richardson teeing up Inman whose low shot was parried away by Jan Mucha, then Ameobi having a goal ruled out after the England under-21 man had dinked the ball home after Bigirimana's slide-rule pass.
McAleny cracked an effort just wide for the hosts before Inman curled just the wrong side of the post. Then came the best chance of the match as Long streaked past Lubo Satka but his low shot rebounded back off a post and Mbabu made an amazing last-ditch tackle as Barkley prepared to sweep home the loose ball.
The Swiss starlet almost made an equally telling contribution at the other end as he dribbled towards goal but shot wide of the far post before Shane Duffy headed wide from Kennedy's left-wing corner.
But in the 66th minute, the deadlock was finally broken when Ameobi swept home after a good Newcastle move.
The lead lasted just two minutes, however, as Kennedy's low centre was only cleared as far as McAlney, who made no mistake from ten yards.
Mucha's poor kick fell straight to Miele, who played in Aarons but the keeper made amends as he foiled the Newcastle teenager, but Alnwick made an even better stop to deny Barkley moments later.
However he could do nothing to prevent Naismith from rifling home after sprinting through the middle. That looked set to be the winner but with seven minutes left, Ameobi fed Inman who drilled past Mucha.
The visitors almost won it late on as Tavernier volleyed wide from Miele's corner and Inman shot too close to Mucha from 25 yards then, in the first minute of stoppage time, Long's header clipped the top of the bar.
After Ameobi forced Mucha into a smart save in extra time, Richardson latched onto Tyias Browning's tired backpass and squeezed the ball past Mucha from the tightest of angles.
Inman saw a goalbound effort deflected wide after a glorious move which he instigated alongside Ameobi and Aarons then, at the start of the second hald of the additional time, sub Courtney Duffus headed just off target.
But just as it seemed United have done enough, Lundstram - fresh from a loan spell at Doncaster - stole in to force home an equaliser.
And after Stones scored Everton's first penalty, Bigirimana slipped and missed for Newcastle. Tavernier, Ameobi and Inman all converted but the hosts scored all of their spot-kicks to go through.
Everton Under-21s: Jan Mucha, John Stones, Bryan Oviedo, John Lundstram, Shane Duffy (c), Tyias Browning, Matthew Kennedy (Conor Grant 111), Ross Barkley, Conor McAleny (Courtney Duffus 101), Steven Naismith, Chris Long (Luke Garbutt 105)
Subs not used: Mason Springthorpe, George Green
Newcastle United Under-21s: Jak Alnwick, Kevin Mbabu, Macaulay Gillesphey, Gael Bigirimana, James Tavernier (c), Lubomir Satka, Michael Richardson, Brandon Miele, Alex Gilliead (Rolando Aarons 46), Sammy Ameobi, Bradden Inman
Subs not used: Steven Logan, Jonathan Mitchell, Lewis Aird