Newcastle United Reserves 0, Middlesbrough Reserves 1
ALAN Thompson rued a lack of creativity from Newcastle United reserves after they were gunned down by a single Middlesbrough goal, writes Lee Ryder.
A healthy holiday crowd at Whitley Park soaked up the beautiful spring weather on Tyneside for the Totesport.com Northern Division clash.
However, while United fans were able to enjoy a beer in the sunshine while watching the second string, a young side with several players heading in different directions at the end of the season was unable to silence the visitors.
Ex-Hartlepool United boss Martin Scott’s side were not that good either, but the Teessiders edged an instantly forgettable encounter by merely going through the motions.
It was game in which one goal always looked like it would be enough to secure victory.
It meant a header from Jonathan Grounds on 69 minutes from Cameron Park’s swirling corner-kick won it for Boro.
Newcastle should have scored with two first-half headers from Ben Tozer, but also had teenage goalkeeper Max Johnson to thank for three wonderful saves.
Promising youngster Aaron Spear came off the bench and wasted a decent effort late on after latching on to Frank Danquah’s fluffed effort.
Afterwards former Celtic midfielder Thompson said: “We had two good chances but overall not enough good chances.
“We had one or two in the second half but none in the first so from that point of view it was really disappointing. In previous weeks we have created a lot and just not managed to score.
“It was different against Boro, which was disappointing.
“We are normally decent going forward as a group of players.
“We have struggled at the back this season, but our two centre-halves were excellent so that is pleasing.
“They are still young and we can take some solace from the fact Boro had a lot of players with more experience.
“They had played more football and that does make a difference at this level.
“You can judge yourself against the older lads.”
The result puts Middlesbrough at the top of the table, which will please manager Gordon Strachan and chief executive Keith Lamb who were both in the stands at the home of West Allotment Celtic.
First-team players Andrew Taylor and Marvin Emnes were in the Teessiders’ team.
NEWCASTLE UNITED RESERVES: Johnson; Nzuzi, Lough, Tozer, Morris, Ferguson, McLaughlin, Danquah, Edmundsson (McCrudden 70), Baheng (56), Ranger (Spear 79).
MIDDLESBROUGH RESERVES: Ripley; Shead, Bennett, Pilatos, Smallwood, Grounds, Fowler, A Taylor, Emnes, Gray, Park.