By Dan King - Newcastle United Digital Editor
At Ewood Park
Blackburn Rovers Under-21s 2 (Jorge, Preston)
Newcastle United Under-21s 1 (Aarons)
Gael Bigirimana completed an hour of his first match since January, but Newcastle's under-21s were beaten by Blackburn at Ewood Park.
The midfielder had suffered an ankle injury in a second-string game at Tottenham but was busy on his return as he captained a Magpies side for whom he was the only player with first-team experience.
Rovers took a 13th minute lead through Paulo Jorge but Rolando Aarons struck after half an hour to restore parity for Peter Beardsley's outfit before Jordan Preston scored what proved to be the winner.
After nine minutes, Adam Armstrong fired just over from the edge of the box before Rovers went ahead.
And by Jorge, was it special. After an attack down the right, the ball was cut back for the Portuguese who went for a first-time effort from 20 yards, similar to Yaya Toure's sensational strike against Sunderland in Sunday's Capital One Cup final. It crashed off the bar and over the line with Jonathan Mitchell unable to get near it.
However, Aarons in particular refused to buckle and after some lovely skill and a great run into the box, he poked just wide - but felt he had been fouled by Ryan Edwards as he took his shot.
On the half hour mark, however, he equalised. Mitchell confidently claimed a Rovers corner and aimed a quick clearance towards Armstrong, whose touch was sublime and his pass even better. Aarons still had plenty to do, but kept his composure to slide the ball beyond Simon Eastwood.
Devarn Green blazed over in the 43rd minute but at half-time the scores were level.
However, Rovers scored with their first sustained spell of pressure in the second period. Liam Gibson made a good block from Peter Smith but the ball was played back into the box and Preston was able to nudge the ball past the exposed Mitchell.
The game was then held up for several minutes as young left-back Gibson was stretchered off in a neck brace as a precaution having appeared to collide with one of his team-mates while attempting to clear a corner. He was replaced by Ryan McKinnon, who was making his under-21 debut.
When play did restart, only a fine save from Mitchell denied Preston his second of the night, then the same player shot straight at the Magpies goalkeeper after a great through-ball from Jorge.
Jamie Sterry made a superb tackle on Green and Jorge volleyed wide from the resulting corner before nine minutes of stoppage time were played, but Newcastle couldn't equalise for a second time and indeed it was the hosts who came closest as Mitchell tipped sub Luke Wall's drive over.
Blackburn Rovers Under-21s: Simon Eastwood, Hugo Fernandez Molina, Will Beesley, Hyuga Tanner (Jack Doyle 84), Ryan Edwards, Darragh Lenihan (c), Paulo Jorge, Bradley Bauress, Jordan Preston, Devarn Green (Luke Wall 87), Peter Smith
Subs not used: Deniz Pero, David Raya, Modou Cham
Newcastle United Under-21s: Jonathan Mitchell, Jamie Sterry, Callum Williams, Lubo Satka, Liam Gibson (Ryan McKinnon 70), Michael Richardson, Gael Bigirimana (c) (Alex Gilliead 61), Greg Olley, Rolando Aarons, Jonathyn Quinn (Callum Roberts 90+2), Adam Armstrong
Subs not used: Brendan Pearson, Daniel Barlaser