Aston Villa Under-23s 1 Newcastle United Under-23s 1
- Scott Tallis
Tom Allan's late strike secured a point for Newcastle United Under-23s during a 1-1 draw against their Aston Villa counterparts on Sunday afternoon.
The young Magpies fell behind in the opening half-hour at the Bodymoor Heath Training Ground through Zak Brown's curling finish but, after a dominant second-half display, were rewarded in the final stages through Allan's close-range finish, the forward's fourth goal in seven games at second-string level.
Ahead of their penultimate Division Two clash of the season, Newcastle's second-string were targeting back-to-back league victories for the first time this term after a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace on Monday.
Chris Hogg and Peter Ramage made three changes to the side which defeated their Eagles counterparts, with goalkeeper Jake Turner, Oisín McEntee and Allan named in the starting line-up.
The first goalscoring opportunity of the contest fell to the hosts as Kahrel Reddin, who scored in Villa's FA Youth Cup quarter-final win against Newcastle's under-18s on Tuesday night, saw his free-kick fly wide of the target.
Turner, who spent the first-half of the 2020/21 campaign at League Two outfit Morecambe, was on hand to deny Tommi O'Reilly after the Villa forward was allowed a free header inside the box but the attempt lacked power to threaten the 22-year-old shot-stopper and was comfortably held.
Taylor-Jay Hart went close to punishing the United defence after latching onto Michael Tait's low cross but the midfielder's strike from a narrow angle flew wide of the far post.
Christian Atsu went close to breaking the deadlock as the 29-year-old, who has made over 100 league appearances for the Magpies' senior side, controlled Ryan Barrett's cushioned header before drilling an effort from the edge of the penalty area but his strike flew straight towards Villa goalkeeper Ákos Ónodi.
In the 26th minute, Villa took the lead through Brown as the Villa trialist picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty area and, after advancing into the box, curled an effort into the far corner.
The visitors went close to responding in immediate fashion as Adam Wilson, who netted against Crystal Palace, won possession in a dangerous position before teeing up Jack Young but the under-23s skipper's strike was sent wide.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who made his professional debut on loan at League Two side Tranmere Rovers in October, then headed wide after arriving onto Tom Allan's inviting cross at the back post.
In the second-half, Newcastle began brightly as Stan Flaherty - United's top goalscorer at under-23 level this term with eight strikes - picked up Young's pass from distance but saw his audacious effort flew over the crossbar before, minutes later, the teenage winger's corner flew into Brad Cross's path but the South African's header was directed over the bar.
Rodrigo Vilca, who joined United from Deportivo Municipal in October, was then introduced from the bench, making his first appearance of 2021 for United's youngsters following a long-term injury.
United demanded a penalty as Atsu's header, following a teasing cross from the right flank, struck the body of Villa captain Jake Walker but protests for handball were waved away by referee Scott Tallis.
In the 88th minute, United found themselves on level terms through Allan's tap-in as substitute Rosaire Longelo produced an inviting cross from the right wing towards Atsu, who cleverly passed the ball into the six-yard area, with Allan on hand to tap home to seal a deserved point.
The two sides face a rematch on Friday night as Newcastle's youngsters take on the Villans at Whitley Park in their final Premier League 2 fixture of the 2020/21 campaign (kick-off 7pm).
Newcastle United Under-23s: Jake Turner, Ryan Barrett (Owen Bailey 46), Oisín McEntee, Brad Cross, Matt Bondswell, Niall Brookwell, Jack Young (c), Stan Flaherty (Rodrigo Vilca 69), Tom Allan, Christian Atsu, Adam Wilson (Rosaire Longelo 78).
Subs not used: Oliver Walters, Piotr Banda.
Photography courtesy of Neville Williams