Newcastle United Under-23s capped off their end of season purple patch with a 3-1 win over Morpeth Town in the Techflow Marine Senior Cup final at St James’ Park on Wednesday night.
Former England U20 player Cal Roberts opened the scoring just 15 minutes in for The Magpies, but the Northern league side hit back on the half-time whistle – Liam Henderson getting on the end of a goal mouth scramble to tie the game at the break.
The Highwaymen looked a well-oiled machine starting the second half, but a second goal by Roberts threw them off the momentum with Newcastle going on to seal the deal in injury time through a sensational Dan Barlaser free-kick.
“We were in danger of not having anything to show for what’s been a great effort that the lads have put in over the course of the season,” said NUFC U23’s coach Ben Dawson.
“In terms of performances of late I think tonight was probably our worst one.
“Similar to the first team, we forgot what we did well in the last few games – but that’s probably what the pressure of a final brings.”
Senior Cup Man of the Match Cal Roberts is one of the few players under contract for the next campaign – with many of the second string squad set for release this summer.
“There are some lads who have been here a very long time but we always stress the importance that they never know when their last game is going to be,” added Dawson.
“Callum is frustrating because we see glimpses of what we know he has but we need to find a way for him to produce that on a consistent basis – whether that will be with us next season or on loan.
“I think most of the lads will have a future in football, we have given them enough grounding so they can go on and make a name for themselves at another club – whatever level that may be.”
And the former Kilmarnock loanee will inspiration from teammate Mo Sangare training with the first team squad last month, in line with Rafa Benítez’s intentions to bring the next generation through to the first team.
But in the meantime the current crop will savour the experience of winning the club’s first Senior Cup since 2014, before heading straight back into training this afternoon.
By Dan Simmonite