Peter Beardsley brought a youthful Newcastle United Under 23 side to Woodhorn Lane for a friendly against Ashington on Tuesday night in what turned out to be a good work out for both sides.
Beardsley’s players were looking to avenge a 1-0 defeat exactly a year ago to the day. Premier League referee Michael Oliver took charge of proceedings.
A large crowd of 690 watched on as the visitors quickly took a grip on the game and declared their intentions as early as the third minute when a run down the left by Adam Wilson saw him whip a cross into the box which was met by a firm header from Lewis McNall but Conor Grant dived full length to push away the young striker’s effort. The Ashington keeper was powerless to keep out the next Newcastle effort however when a corner on the left was played into the box by Matthew Lonstaff and met with a glancing header by Owen Bailey which flew into the net to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Ashington were struggling to get into any sort of rhythm but almost got a break though when Kyle Downey whipped in a dangerous cross from the right which was just cleared by Yannick Aziakonou with Dale Pearson looking like he was about to head home. Lewis Strafford then played a defence splitting pass which looked to have sent Callum Johnson through on goal only for Newcastle’s keeper, Paul Woolston, to race from his goal and smother the ball at the feet of the Ashington striker.
The home side were to regret these missed opportunities when three minutes later Craig Spooner sent the impressive Mackenzie Heaney racing down the right wing and his low cross into the box was met by Wilson sliding in at the back post to give the young Magpies a 2-0 advantage.
Ashington almost hit back immediately when a good passing move saw the ball fall to the young trialist left back but his first time effort sailed only inches over the bar.
On the stroke of half time Newcastle extended their lead further with an almost mirror image of their first goal. This time the corner from the right was swung in with pinpoint accuracy once again by Longstaff and Bailey rose in the centre of the area to head powerfully home for his second of the game.
With both sides making changes at half time the game was over as a contest just a minute into the second half. A ball was played in to Lewis McNall on the left edge of the area and the young forward turned and curled a stunning effort into the top right hand corner of the goal giving Grant no chance.
This however spurred Ashington into action and within four minutes they had pulled a goal back. Good pressure from wide man Lee McAndrew saw him cut out a square pass on the edge of the area and he broke quickly into the box to fire low past sub keeper Nathan Harker.
There followed a good spell of possession for the home side keen to raise their game in their final friendly before the season starts proper with the FA Cup tie against Sunderland Ryhope CW at Woodhorn Lane this coming Saturday. This late dominance saw the Colliers reduce the deficit further with a well worked goal between two summer signings. Lewis Strafford did well to rob the Newcastle defender in the centre of the pitch and played an inch perfect pass into the path of Tony Stephenson’s whose impressive turn of pace saw him race clear of the visitor’s defence and coolly slot a left foot effort wide of the Newcastle keeper to nestle in the bottom left hand corner. Despite late efforts from Dale Pearson and Ben Sampson Ashington could not add any further to their tally and the final whistle saw a thoroughly entertaining came come to an end at 2-4.
Ashington: Conor Grant, Shaun Henderson, Trialist, Lewis Strafford, Craig Scott, Wayne Buchanan, Ben Sampson, Kyle Downey, Callum Johnson, Dale Pearson, Lee McAndrew. Subs: Ben Christensen, Luc Glasper, Shaun Bell, James Loughbrough, James Harmison, Tony Stephenson.
Newcastle United: Paul Woolston, Craig Spooner, Ben Kitchen, Matthew Longstaff, Yannick Aziakonou, Owen Bailey, Mackenzie Heaney, Mo Sangare, Lewis McNall, Juan Cumbrera, Adam Wilson. Subs: Lewis Cass, Nathan Harker, Kelland Watts, Liam Smith, Tyrique Bartlett.
Referee: Michael Oliver