West Bromwich Albion U23s 1 Newcastle United U23s 1
- Simon Mather
A second half equaliser from Callum Roberts earned Newcastle United Under-23s a point on the opening day of the season as they drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
Nathan Ferguson’s early strike put the Baggies in front at their training centre as United struggled to impose themselves in the first half.
But Ben Dawson’s youngsters came out fighting after the break, and levelled through Roberts, who finished off a well-worked move involving debutant Rosaire Longelo and Owen Bailey.
They could have won it, too, with Newcastle carving out a host of chances – the best of which fell to substitute Elias Sörensen, whose close-range effort forced a fine save from Alex Palmer and ensured the hosts would take a solitary point from the contest.
It took just eight minutes for West Brom to seize the advantage, as centre half Ferguson hooked home from inside the six-yard box to make it 1-0.
And that’s the way the scoreline stayed until half time, as the visitors – who fielded a strong team, with Freddie Woodman, Jamie Sterry and Sean Longstaff all starting – fought to break down a stubborn Baggies backline.
Former West Ham man Longelo was introduced in place of Victor Fernández at half time, and it took just four minutes for the winger to make a telling contribution. He played in captain Owen Bailey with a through ball, and his low cross was dispatched by Roberts.
That was the start of the Magpies’ dominance, as both Roberts and Luke Charman fired high and wide. Forward Charman then had an even better chance when Roberts’ inswinging cross found him unmarked in the middle, but he could only glance his header past the post.
Longstaff tested Palmer with a well-struck shot from distance before Charman was withdrawn and Sörensen sent on in his place, and the Danish frontman almost snatched a winner, but his strike was parried away by the Baggies’ stopper.
United continued to push, but ultimately had to settle for a point, which got them off the mark for the new campaign.