By Tom Easterby
Newcastle United Under-21s 2 (Gilliead, Kemen)
Stoke City Under-21s 4 (Alabi, Ward, Kemen og, Richards)
Olivier Kemen netted at both ends as Newcastle United Under-21s slipped to 4-2 defeat at home to Stoke City in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League on Monday.
The young Frenchman was in the thick of the action all game, rolling home an equaliser from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time as the Magpies fought back from two goals down.
However, the 17-year-old's afternoon turned sour when he inadvertently turned Eddie Lecygne's teasing cross past Jonathan Mitchell soon after the restart to hand the Potters the upper hand in a hard-fought game, before substitute Derice Richards completed the scoring at the Benton-based Training Centre.
The visitors went ahead on 11 minutes when lone striker James Alabi pounced to steer home after a quickly taken throw-in found its way into the big forward's path.
Glyn Hodges' side extended their lead in the 17th minute when Charlie Ward surged through a gap in the Magpies defence before chipping over the advancing Mitchell, and could have gone even further ahead but for a last-gasp Kemen clearing header, with Alabi poised to pounce.
That second goal sparked United into life and, with their midfield orchestrated by the combative pairing of Kemen and Gael Bigirimana, they sought to find a way back into the game.
England Under-18 striker Alex Gillead pulled one back for Peter Beardsley's young charges when he raced away before coolly dispatching a low, left-footed effort past Dan Bachmann.
With his team now firmly in the ascendency, Kemen's clever control enabled him to lay on a shooting opportunity for Jonathyn Quinn, whose powerful drive was tipped over by Bachmann. From the resulting corner, Greg Olley forced a save from the City custodian but it wasn't long before United were back on equal footing.
After latching on to a one-two from Quinn, Kemen was felled in the box and promptly stepped up to tuck away the leveller with two minutes of the half remaining.
Remie Streete was withdrawn at the interval due to injury, and his absence in defence was soon capitalised upon by Stoke, who retook the advantage when Kemen sliced past his own goalkeeper three minutes into the second period.
With Joel Taylor looking dangerous, they grabbed a fourth just after the hour mark when the lively winger's cross was converted by Richards at the far post.
A subdued Newcastle mustered just one clear-cut effort in the closing stages. Kemen and Bigirimana combined well on the edge of the box, but Bachmann was quick to smother when the latter bore down on goal.
With just minutes remaining, the powerful Alabi had the opportunity to add further gloss to the scoreline, nodding over Lecygne's corner before being denied by Mitchell after a quick breakaway in what was a disappointing outing for United.
Newcastle United Under-21s: Jonathan Mitchell; Jamie Sterry, Remie Streete (Ryan McKinnon 46), Lubo Satka, Kevin Mbabu (Liam Gibson 69); Gael Bigirimana, Olivier Kemen; Michael Richardson, Greg Olley (Liam Smith 62), Jonathyn Quinn; Alex Gilliead
Subs not used: Paul Woolston, Ben Drennan