Stephenson hungry for goals ahead of Heed clash
Written by Luke Vinton
Dylan Stephenson is aiming to add to his pre-season goalscoring tally ahead of Newcastle United Under-23s' friendly encounter at Gateshead on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm BST).
Chris Hogg's side make the short trip to the Gateshead International Stadium to face the Tynesiders, currently managed by former Newcastle defender Mike Williamson, as they continue their pre-season schedule ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
The young Magpies defeated National League North outfit Darlington 3-1 last weekend, with Stephenson netting a late brace at Blackwell Meadows and the 18-year-old striker, who signed his first professional contract with United in June, is hopeful of continuing his bright form in front of goal.
The Blyth-born teenager told nufc.co.uk: "I thought we played really well against Darlington, especially in the second-half. We kept the ball well and played with a strong intensity. It was good to get two goals in 45 minutes which gives me a lot of confidence.
"I enjoyed going up against senior opposition. When you're on the ball, you feel that bit of pressure and the tackles are more stronger. I was really happy to score twice and it gives me a boost going into the next friendlies against Gateshead and Blyth (Spartans) on Tuesday.
"For the first goal, I had to stretch to get to the ball first and managed to put it through the goalkeeper's legs and then the second one was all about having composure as it's me against the keeper. I've picked a corner and stuck it away."
The young forward ended the previous campaign on a positive note, scoring four goals during Newcastle United Under-18s' run to the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals, netting a first-half hat-trick against Leeds United in the fourth round, as well as notching his first goal at under-23 level away at Stoke City.
As well as aiming to impress at second-string level, the boyhood Newcastle supporter is bidding to follow in the footsteps of fellow under-23 squad members Jack Young, Matt Bondswell and Joe White, who all made their first-team debut for the Magpies during pre-season.
"It gives me a boost of confidence before the beginning of the season," Stephenson added. "There's three pre-season games to go so it's just around the corner and I'm hoping to carry the form on.
"I want to be in the starting line-up for every game, carrying on scoring goals and being the main forward for the season.
"They've all had the opportunity with the first-team to impress and everyone at the academy are pleased to see them make their debuts for the first-team. Hopefully, I can do the same."
Tickets for the pre-season friendly at the Gateshead International Stadium on Saturday, 31st July (kick-off 3pm), can be purchased here.
"It gives me a boost of confidence before the beginning of the season. There's three pre-season games to go so it's just around the corner and I'm hoping to carry the form on."