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Peter hails 'unbelievable' start as Magpies progress

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Peter Beardsley praised his side for a lightning-quick start as Newcastle United Under-23s moved to within one win of promotion to the Premier League 2’s top tier.

The Magpies saw off Fulham in last night’s play-off semi-final at St. James’ Park, with Jamie Holmes and Stuart Findlay on target.

Holmes opened the scoring just six minutes in, and United saw further opportunities come and go before Findlay headed home a second after the half-hour mark.

And, helped by a pre-match visit from first-team manager Rafa Benitez, Beardsley acknowledged that his charges could have been home and hosed by the time the Cottagers finally got a foothold.

“I thought the first 20 minutes were unbelievable – we were really, really good and could have had two or three goals then,” he told nufc.co.uk. “The gaffer and his staff were here tonight, which is massive for these kids. He came into the dressing-room just before the start, and you could tell, because it looked like they were trying to impress him. The goal Jamie Holmes scored was, at any level, a brilliant one. It is pleasing for us that he was here tonight, and that’s the sort of person he is.

“To be fair to Fulham, at 2-0, they played really well, and will probably be disappointed. Matz Sels made some brilliant saves, and at times, probably kept us in it. On balance, the scoreline is probably a bit harsh on Fulham. (Manager) Peter Grant is a good man – I know him really well – and they played some good football. But, to our credit, the blocks we made, and the way we threw our bodies on our line, was very good. If you look at the first team, they’ve done that all season. That’s an example to our kids, and tonight they took it on board.”

The Magpies will now take on West Ham United for a place in next season’s Premier League 2 Division One, a clash that will take place at St. James’ Park next Tuesday.

The two sides have already met on three occasions this term. The Hammers were comfortable winners at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Victoria Road in August, but were forced to settle for a point in the return encounter, before exiting the Premier League Cup at St. James’ Park five days later.

Still, they are rated highly by Beardsley, who is hopeful of a sizeable turnout as the Magpies look to cap off a positive campaign in suitable style.

“No disrespect to Fulham or anyone, but West Ham are the best side we’ve played,” he said. “They deserved to beat us comfortably down there – and they did – and the two games here could have gone either way. We obviously had Sammy Ameobi for one of them, and he probably won us the game. We know it’ll be tough, but it’ll be tough for them as well.

“It’s great for both teams to have had three games at St. James’ Park, and if the third one is as good as the other two have been, then everybody should try and turn up. I think it’ll be a good game to come and watch.”

"I thought the first 20 minutes were unbelievable – we were really, really good and could have had two or three goals then."

Peter Beardsley

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