Shrewsbury Town 3 Newcastle United Under-21s 0
Newcastle United Under-21s were knocked out of the Leasing.com Trophy with a game to play after losing to League One side Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night.
The hosts’ front pairing – Fejiri Okenabirhie and Jason Cummings – opened up a healthy lead in the first half before former Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Dave Edwards wrapped things up for the Shropshire outfit late on.
The Magpies’ youngsters reached the northern area’s quarter-finals last time out but, with Shrewsbury now level on points with Macclesfield Town and Group D leaders Port Vale a further three better off, Neil Redfearn’s side will travel to Vale Park next month knowing they can no longer qualify for the competition’s knockout stage.
Shrewsbury – perched just inside the top half in League One a quarter of the way into the season – got off to the more purposeful start at the Montgomery Waters Meadow. Okenabirhie came close to opening the scoring less than five minutes in, with Jamie Sterry having to produce a crucial intervention to divert the frontman’s first-time strike into the side-netting. Then, Cummings – who struck twice against the Magpies’ senior side for Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup two years ago – brought down a searching ball from winger Shaun Whalley before forcing Dan Langley into a brilliant double-stop.
But, just as United appeared to have steadied the ship, the Shrews drew first blood. Experienced wide-man Whalley provided the first of his two assists on the night, delivering a fine centre from the right flank for Okenabirhie to sweep beyond Langley and into the near corner of the net.
Redfearn’s troops attacked straight from the restart and won a corner through Luke Charman. Shrewsbury never really dealt with it and only a fine block from Brad Walker kept the home side in front, Elliot Anderson having got a touch to an inviting Sterry cross.
However, the visitors found themselves with a mountain to climb shortly after the half-hour mark. It was simple for Cummings, who rose unchallenged to flick Whalley’s in-swinging corner past a helpless Langley from six yards.
Redfearn swiftly shuffled his pack, withdrawing Anderson and fellow teenager Joe White for Ludwig Francillette and Víctor Fernández. Centre half Francillette had United’s only other chance before the break, curling past the upright from deep inside the penalty area after Sterry’s corner created havoc.
And it was Fernández who created the Magpies’ first opportunity of the second half. The Spanish wide-man produced a rapid turn of pace to advance down the left and tee up Tom Allan, who was unlucky to see the ball come back off the crossbar from a tight angle.
Midway through the half, Fernández himself came agonisingly close to halving the deficit for Newcastle, powering towards the edge of the 18-yard box before curling the ball onto the far post. It bounced into the path of Dylan Stephenson – introduced for Charman only a minute earlier – but the forward shot into the ground and Shrewsbury ‘keeper Joe Murphy gathered comfortably.
It very nearly got worse for United, though, as the Shrews countered immediately. With Redfearn’s side short on numbers inside their own half, Cummings managed to hold off Francillette and bear down on goal, but Langley was off his line quickly and produced another fine intervention.
Though Fernández in particular continued to probe, Shrewsbury looked comfortable as time started to get away from United. And, with just a couple of minutes of normal time remaining, former Wales international Edwards added a touch of gloss to the scoreline, firing into the roof of the net from 12 yards after the Magpies failed to deal with another inviting delivery from Whalley.
Shrewsbury Town: Joe Murphy, Shaun Whalley, Ro-Shaun Williams, Brad Walker, Donald Love, Scott Golbourne, Dave Edwards, Sean Goss, Louis Thompson (Josh Laurent 60), Fejiri Okenabirhie (Ryan Barnett 88), Jason Cummings (Daniel Udoh 73).
Newcastle United Under-21s: Dan Langley, Jamie Sterry, Lewis Cass, Oisín McEntee, Oliver Walters, Tom Allan, Jack Young, Joe White (Ludwig Francillette 39), Elliot Anderson (Víctor Fernández 39), Kyle Scott, Luke Charman (Dylan Stephenson 66).