Newcastle United Under-23s 2 Southampton Under-23s 4
- Gareth Rhodes
Newcastle United Under-23s' Premier League 2 promotion hopes came to an end following a 4-2 defeat against Southampton on Monday night.
The young Magpies, requiring a win to continue their pursuit of a Division Two play-off spot, conceded three times in the first-half at St. James' Park following Tyler Dibling's freakishly identical treble.
Jimmy-Jay Morgan's second-half chip extended Southampton's advantage before Ramello Mitchell was sent off for the visitors following an altercation with Jay Turner-Cooke.
Despite goals from Dylan Stephenson and Isaac Westendorf, Newcastle's youngsters were unable to spark a fightback as they suffered a fourth consecutive loss in their penultimate Premier League 2 fixture of the 2021/22 campaign.
Elliott Dickman made four changes to the side which suffered a 4-2 away defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers last week as 30-year-old goalkeeper Mark Gillespie replaced Max Thompson in-between the sticks while 17-year-old midfielder Ellis Stanton was handed his first start at under-23 level.
Newcastle's youngsters almost found themselves behind in the opening 40 seconds as Mitchell raced onto a lofted pass before the striker's shot was importantly blocked by captain Niall Brookwell, who joined the Magpies' youth set-up from Liverpool in the summer of 2020.
However, in the 6th minute, the Saints took the lead through Dibling. After picking the ball up towards the halfway line, the attacking midfielder advanced towards goal before unleashing a powerful effort beyond Gillespie via the right-hand post.
The hosts searched for an instant response as Lucas De Bolle, who received an international call-up with Scotland under-21s last month, saw a half-volley wide of the target following Tom Allan's knockdown.
Isaac Westendorf went close to netting his seventh goal of the season at second-string level as the Bremen-born forward dispossessed Olly Lancashire towards the byline before his resulting strike at goal was blocked by Southampton goalkeeper Harry Page.
In the 33rd minute, Dibling doubled his and Southampton's tally. Similar to his first goal, the England under-16 international completed a dangerous run before firing another low attempt into the bottom right-hand corner.
In the 40th minute, Newcastle conceded a third as Dibling completed his hat-trick, picking the ball up on the edge of the box before lashing the ball home in front of the Gallowgate End.
In the second-half, Allan went close to reducing the deficit as the 22-year-old forward, who made his professional debut for the Magpies during an Emirates FA Cup against Rochdale in January 2020, collected Jay Turner-Cooke's pass but hit the side-netting after racing beyond Lewis Payne.
United's second-string fell further behind as Morgan netted Southampton's fourth of the night. After racing through on goal from the right byline, the 16-year-old cooly dinked the ball past Gillespie.
Southampton were reduced to ten men in the closing stages as Mitchell appeared to make contact with Turner-Cooke, with referee David Richardson showing a straight red card to the Saints striker.
Allan was denied shortly after Mitchell's dismissal, with the Ashington-born forward's header from Joe Oliver's inviting cross was excellently tipped over the crossbar by Lewis.
Stephenson had been introduced from the substitutes' bench before the Blyth-born forward made a strong impact for Newcastle, pouncing on a defensive mistake and tucking the ball into an empty net, registering his 15th goal of the season at under-23 level in the process.
In the 82nd minute, Westendorf notched his seventh goal of the term as Turner-Cooke's cross was lofted into the striker's path, who headed the ball beyond Lewis inside the penalty area.
De Bolle went close to setting up a nervy finish as another teasing pass from Turner-Cooke's cross founds its way to the back post but the 19-year-old central midfielder fired the ball over the crossbar.
Newcastle United Under-23s: Mark Gillespie, Joe Oliver, Niall Brookwell (c), Remi Savage, Josh Scott, Ellis Stanton, Lucas De Bolle, Tom Allan (Nathan Carlyon 86), Adam Wilson (Dylan Stephenson 68), Jay Turner-Cooke, Isaac Westendorf.
Subs not used: Charlie Wiggett, Max Thompson, Santiago Muñoz.