Rafa Benitez watched Newcastle United’s Under-23s suffer an agonising play-off defeat tonight.
Peter Beardsley’s side, looking to win promotion to Premier League 2 Division One, were beaten 2-1 by West Ham United at St James’s Park.
Toni Martinez – who scored an FA Cup goal against Benitez’s senior side in January for loan club Oxford United – netted both the visiting team’s goals, while Tom Heardman scored for Newcastle.
“I thought for the first 35 minutes we were the better team and could have scored another goal,” said football development manager Beardsley.
“But, fair play to them, they got a goal just before half time and that gives them a lift.
“They scored a second goal and managed the game well.
“They’re a good team. No complaints. It was probably a game too far.”
Heardman gave Newcastle an early lead in front of a crowd of 1,824. Newcastle went on to dominate the half, but they couldn’t take their chances.
West Ham levelled two minutes before the break through Martinez, who netted again in the 53rd minute.