Newcastle United Under-23s 3 West Bromwich Albion U23 2
- Andrew Miller
Newcastle United Under-23s held off a second-half fightback against their West Bromwich Albion counterparts to secure a 3-2 victory in Premier League 2 on Monday afternoon.
The young Magpies raced into a three-goal lead before the half-time break at United's Little Benton Academy, courtesy of goals from Tom Allan, Elliot Anderson and Stan Flaherty.
The hosts missed a penalty towards the hour-mark as Anderson's spot-kick was saved by Baggies goalkeeper Maksymilian Boruc before two quick-fire goals from Albion's Jamie Soule and Toby King set up a tight finish to the Division Two clash.
Both sides were reduced to ten men in the dying stages as Florent Indalecio received a second yellow card after an altercation with Soule, who was also shown a red card but Chris Hogg's side held firm to secure their first win of 2021.
United's second-string began the league meeting in strong fashion, with Anderson going close to notching his sixth goal in all competitions at under-23 level. After Flaherty's dangerous low cross flew into Anderson's path, the 18-year-old - who made his senior debut in the Magpies' FA Cup defeat at Arsenal - sent his sliding effort wide of the target.
In the 22nd minute, Newcastle broke the deadlock through Allan, making his first appearance returning from a loan spell at Accrington Stanley in January. After Flaherty's inviting corner found the striker, who scored 17 goals in all competitions last term at second-string level, his acrobatic attempt struck the underside of the crossbar before the 21-year-old reacted the quickest to bravely nod the loose ball into the net.
United's second-string doubled their lead in the 36th minute as Anderson netted his fourth league goal of the campaign. After Flaherty's lofted pass was neatly controlled in the penalty area, the Scotland under-19 international drilled a powerful effort beyond Boruc.
Flaherty then turned from provider to goalscorer in the 38th minute as the winger, who joined the Magpies' Academy in January 2020 from Arsenal, grabbed Newcastle's third of the afternoon.
After Anderson won possession on the left flank before seeing his fizzing effort blocked by Boruc, Flaherty was on hand to fire a low first-time effort into the net, registering his sixth goal in 11 league matches.
United's youngsters survived an early scare in the second-half as Soule's header crashed off the crossbar within the opening minute of the restart.
Newcastle were awarded a penalty shortly after the hour mark as Joe White was bundled over inside the penalty area by Lino Da Cruz Sousa after the midfielder, who completed a neat one-two with Indalecio, advanced past the full-back before being pulled down at the byline.
Anderson, however, was denied from the penalty spot as the teenager's low effort was saved by Boruc before Flaherty's rebound smashed off the side-netting.
United were delivered another blow as the Baggies pulled one back in the 63rd minute as Soule leapt from Rico Richards' cross from the left flank before directing his header into the far right-hand corner.
Anderson was unfortunate not to grab his second of the afternoon minutes later as the attacking midfielder raced towards goal from inside his own half before cutting inside to unleash a fierce effort but, despite beating Boruc, the ball flew narrowly over the crossbar.
Albion halved the deficit in the 68th minute as Toby King latched onto a loose ball in the penalty area before rifling the ball beyond United goalkeeper Will Brown.
Both sides were reduced to ten men in the latter stages of the contest as Indalecio, who had already picked up a yellow card, received his marching orders after a heated tussle with Soule, who was also sent off in the process.
After a lengthy stoppage in play for treatment to Brown, United withheld the Baggies' attack for an additional ten minutes to prevail in a five-goal thriller.
Newcastle United Under-23s: Will Brown, Ryan Barrett, Oisín McEntee, Brad Cross, Josh Scott, Jack Young (c), Niall Brookwell (Nathan Carlyon 88), Elliot Anderson, Stan Flaherty, Joe White (Dylan Stephenson 73), Tom Allan (Florent Indalecio 46).
Subs not used: Lucas Gamblin, Max Thompson.