Aston Villa U-18s 1 Newcastle United U-18s 1
NEWCASTLE United’s youngsters gave themselves an excellent chance of reaching the FA Youth Cup final – and a clash with Chelsea – after taking the game to Aston Villa last night.
Academy chief Joe Joyce was a satisfied man as Newcastle filed out of Villa Park after dominating this semi-final first leg.
The young Magpies kept the score level going into the second leg at St James’ Park next Friday, but could have left the second city with an even better scoreline.
The last time Newcastle were at Villa Park the first team were relegated. This time, the black and whites came out of the blocks first and stunned the 2,457 crowd into near silence on just nine minutes.
United centre-back and skipper Jeff Henderson clipped a long ball over the top early on, and Amble star Phil Airey controlled it brilliantly before poking it past home keeper Benjamin Siegrist at the second attempt.
Newcastle kept up their first half pressure and thought they had doubled the lead when Aussie Bradden Inman fired home from a tight angle when defender James Tavernier planted a right-wing cross just six minutes before the break – only for an offside flag to rule it out.
Villa – playing in front of Martin O’Neill on the big stage – struggled early on as Newcastle’s fluid 4-5-1 system left them chasing shadows.
With Airey the lone striker, the teenager fed well off wing men Samuel Ameobi and Swede Samuel Adjei in an impressive first-half showing.