Darlington 0 Newcastle 2
Written by Newcastle Utd
Goals from Joey Barton and Sammy Ameobi get Newcastle's pre-season off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory at Darlington
By Anthony Marshall, at the Northern Echo Arena
Newcastle 2 (Joey Barton 3, Sammy Ameobi 55)
A goal in each half from Joey Barton and Sammy Ameobi earned Newcastle a 2-0 win away at Darlington in their first pre-season friendly.
Barton latched on to the excellent Leon Best's flick early on to fire in from a couple of yards, and the visitors had further chances to increase their lead, with Best, Hatem Ben Arfa and Mike Williamson all going close.
And ten minutes into the second period substitute Sammy Ameobi doubled their advantage, drilling a shot past Quakers keeper Sam Russell after a near turn.
Newcastle got off to the best possible start with just three minutes on the clock when captain-for-the-night Barton poked home from close range.
Alan Smith swung a ball into the box from the left-flank, which Best flicked down into the path of Barton, and the midfielder applied the finishing touch from inside the six-yard box.
They suffered a set-back in the 11th minute though, with midfielder Danny Guthrie limping off down the tunnel following a challenge minutes earlier in the opposition's penalty area. However it meant a first glimpse of French international Yohan Cabaye for the 6,000-plus Magpies support, who almost opened his account in stunning fashion with a 30-yard effort which wasn't too far away.
Ben Arfa was looking lively in an advanced role behind lone striker Best, and the forward almost created goal number two as his tricky run ended with Smith nodding on to Best, whose chipped finish was narrowly off target.
Only Graeme Lee's excellent headed clearance prevented Haris Vuckic from doubling Newcastle's advantage, after the forward had cut in from the left, and from the resulting corner Phil Gray was on hand to nod away Williamson's effort off his own goalline.
The visitor's pressure was growning and on 23 minutes Best received a ball into his feet just outside the box, wriggled clear of his marker and shot low towards the far corner, forcing Darlington keeper Sam Russell into a smart stop down to his right.
A rare Quakers attack saw midfielder Greg Taylor's shot blocked by Williamson, but the action was soon back at the other end as Best was once again denied by Russell, who tipped the front man's strike wide for a corner.
Best came even closer three minutes before the interval, sending a left-footed shot against the base of the post with the aid of a slight deflection, after a clever change of pace had created the half-a-yard needed for him to get a shot away.
The second half was just a minute old when Ben Arfa continued where he had left off before the break, letting fly with a long-range effort which Russell did well to hold on to.
But goal number two finally arrived in the 55th minute when substitute Sammy Ameobi cut outside his marker to the left-hand side of the area and drilled a shot past the helpless Russell, sparking mass celebration amongst the travelling support and a pitch invasion which held up the game for around ten minutes.
After the interruption manager Alan Pardew rang the changes, introducing the likes of Dan Gosling and Mehdi Abeid in midfield, with young defenders Paul Dummett and James Tavernier also entered the fray.
As can happen with a mass number of substitutions, the game stagnated but a Cabaye free-kick caused chaos in the Darlington defence in the 76th minute, almost forcing the hosts to score an own goal.
Abeid almost had the ball in the back of the net soon after, but saw his effort ruled out by a linesman's offside flag, while Quakers replacement Tommy Wright headed a late free-kick over the top.
Darlington (4-4-2): Sam Russell (Deale Chamberlain 65); Paul Arnison (John McReady 34), Ian Miller, Graeme Lee (Nick Wood 65), Phil Gray (David Ferguson 79); Greg Taylor, Kris Taylor (Jake Simpson 53), Jamie Chandler (Curtis Samgbarini 75); Adam Rundle (Ryan Bowman 46), Liam Hatch (Tommy Wright 46), Jamie Walshaw (John Campbell 46)
Subs not used: Ian Balmain, Scott Harrison
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Fraser Forster; Danny Simpson (James Tavernier 72), Mike Williamson (Jeff Henderson 84), Steven Taylor (Paul Dummett 72), Shane Ferguson (Ryan Taylor 46); Danny Guthrie (Yohan Cabaye 12, Ryan Donaldson 79), Alan Smith (Dan Gosling 60); Joey Barton (Mehdi Abeid 69), Hatem Ben Arfa (Michael Richardson 75), Haris Vuckic (Sammy Ameobi 53); Leon Best (Nile Ranger 65)
Subs not used: Ole Soderberg, Conor Newton
Referee: C Webster
Attendance: 9,721 (6,183 Newcastle)