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Team spirit key for keeper Nathan

Written by Tom Easterby

Goalkeeper Nathan Harker praised the character of Newcastle United Under-18s after they beat Swansea City 3-1 to secure their place in the Fifth Round of the FA Youth Cup.

Lewis McNall’s early penalty put the Magpies ahead at St. James’ Park on Monday night, before Harker’s penalty save from Keiran Evans ensure they made it to the break with their lead intact.

But Liam Cullen levelled after the restart for the Swans, and it was left to substitute Tom Allan to win it for United with a brace.

And 17-year-old Harker said that the spirit within the camp helped to drive his team on to victory in front of over 1,000 supporters.

“We’ve got a great team togetherness – everyone’s quite close in the dressing room – and everyone had that will to win when they went out on the pitch,” he told NUFC TV. “Everyone was up for it, and that showed in our performance.

“It was a tight game from the first minute to last, but the lads pulled through. It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but not everything in football is pretty you’ve got to see the ugly side of it. We’ve done that tonight and got the win.”

Harker’s penalty stop from Evans helped Dave Watson’s side preserve their advantage as the Swans began to apply some pressure towards the end of the first period.

“I’m confident when it comes to penalties – the pressure’s not on me, it’s on the penalty taker – and it wasn’t the cleanest of penalties, but I had to guess the right way and it was a great feeling just before half time to keep us ahead,” explained the stopper.

“If it had gone to 1-1, who knows what would have happened early on in the second half, but we kept ourselves balanced and ready to push on in the second.

“We realised after their goal went in that we had to lift it. We came out a bit flat after the first half, but we got forward, got free kick and it was a great header from the substitute Tommy Allan.”

Newcastle will now face a trip to either Sunderland or Shrewsbury Town, who face each other on Wednesday night, in the Fifth Round.

And Harker said his team would be doing all they can to progress further in the competition, regardless of the opposition.

“In this competition, you never know what’s going to happen, whether it’s Sunderland or Shrewsbury,” he said.  

“If Shrewsbury beat Sunderland it’s game on really, but I think whoever we get, whether it’s the derby or not, we’ll be up for it.”

“We’ve got a great team togetherness – everyone’s quite close in the dressing room – and everyone had that will to win when they went out on the pitch. Everyone was up for it, and that showed in our performance."

Nathan Harker

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