United star­lets shine bright­est in Tro­phy

The Chronicle - - Nufc - By CHRIS WAUGH @ChrisDHWaugh

NEW­CAS­TLE United Un­der-21s made a win­ning de­but in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy - and, when the vic­tory is com­pared to other Academy sides’ results on Tuesday night, it be­comes even more im­pres­sive.

A to­tal of seven in­vi­ta­tional Un­der-21 sides took part in the com­pe­ti­tion for­merly known as the EFL Tro­phy, yet only Peter Beard­s­ley’s Mag­pies tri­umphed.

Goals from Liam Smith and Luke Char­man put New­cas­tle 2-0 against Crewe Alexan­dra and, although the home side scored late on through Jor­dan Bow­ery at Gresty Road, United held on for a de­but win in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Of the other six Academy sides who were in ac­tion on the same evening, Read­ing Un­der-21s drew 2-2 at Colch­ester United - be­fore be­ing de­feated 6-5 on penal­ties, mean­ing the Roy­als missed out on an ad­di­tional bonus point for a shoot-out win - yet the other five Un­der-21 teams all suf­fered de­feats in their open­ing matches.

Sun­der­land Un­der-21s lost 3-1 at Scun­thope United, Black­burn Rovers de­feated Stoke City Un­der-21s 1-0, Southamp­ton Un­der-21s fell to a 2-0 de­feat at Peter­bor­ough United and Mil­ton Keynes Dons tri­umphed 2-0 over Brighton and Hove Al­bion Un­der-21s.

How­ever, the stand­out re­sult of the evening was Le­ices­ter City Un­der-21s slip­ping to a hu­mil­i­at­ing 3-0 hum­bling at Fleet­wood Town, show­ing how big a step up this re­ally is for these Academy sides.

When New­cas­tle Un­der-21s’ re­sult is put into that con­text, then it be­comes all the more im­pres­sive.

Some have ar­gued that Beard­s­ley should of­fer game time to fringe play­ers from the first­team squad, but he re­sisted the temp­ta­tion to do so for United’s de­but in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Rules states that six of the start­ing XI must be 21 or un­der for the Academy sides in the tour­na­ment, mean­ing five elder play­ers can be fielded.

But the only player in the start­ing line-up over the age of 21 was Cur­tis Good, who is part of Beard­s­ley’s Un­der-23 set-up any­way.

New­cas­tle are look­ing to nur­ture their young­sters, while also at­tempt­ing to progress in the tour­na­ment at the same time.

Their mo­ti­va­tion for en­ter­ing a side this sea­son has been two fold and they should be ap­plauded for that, rather than tak­ing the easy op­tion of flood­ing their side with fringe first team­ers.

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