Reading U23 0 Newcastle United U23 2
Newcastle United's second string continued their fine Premier League 2 form with an impressive 2-0 victory against their Reading counterparts on Friday night.
An own goal from Reading's Tom Holmes gave the young Magpies a slender lead at Adams Park before late drama unfolded, with United's Nathan Harker saving Josh Barrett's penalty in the dying stages before substitute Tyrique Bartlett sealed three key points in injury time.
The victory secured Ben Dawson's side their eighth win from their last ten league matches as the youngsters picked up back-to-back clean sheets despite a large spell of possession from the Royals.
Prior to their Division Two clash, United's youngsters had netted 16 times in their previous four matches in all competitions although they faced a Reading side sitting third in the table.
The deadlock was broken within 20 minutes as Watts, who scored a hat-trick in the Magpies' Northumberland Senior Cup thrashing of Blyth Spartans, challenged Holmes following a corner, with the Royals defender inadvertently turning the ball into his own net.
Yannick Touré almost doubled the away side's lead midway through the second half, rounding Royals goalkeeper Jokull Andresson before the forward hesitated in front of goal, with his strike ultimately blocked by Andre Burley.
United continued their search for a crucial second as Matty Longstaff picked up a loose ball into United's final third, threading a neat through ball into the path of Touré, but his low drive towards goal was pushed around the post.
Reading pushed forward in their bid for an equaliser, with Watts on hand at the heart of United's back four to nod away a dangerous cross from Royals winger Barrett. Mo Sangare went narrowly close as he glanced a header wide from inside the penalty box after a teasing corner from Rosaire Longelo before the Liberian was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area.
However, Harker was on hand to produce a splendid stop from Barrett, guessing the right way and pushing the spot-kick away before the United defence cleared the ball to safety. The 20-year-old was then forced into action shortly after his spot-kick heroics, tipping a fierce long-range half volley over the crossbar.
Following a tense finale for Newcastle, there was still time left for Bartlett, introduced from the bench, to double United's advantage. As Juanito surged into the penalty area, his strike was pushed by Andresson into the path of Bartlett, who tucked the ball into an empty net to earn Newcastle a memorable victory.
Newcastle United under-23s: Nathan Harker, Lewis Cass, Kelland Watts, Matthew Longstaff, Owen Bailey (c), Jack Young, Tom Allan, Mo Sangare (Juanito 90), Yannick Touré (Tyrique Bartlett 63), Ryan Barrett, Rosaire Longelo.
Subs not used: Otto Huuhtanen, Oisin McEntee.