Newcastle youngsters stun Notts County with Checkatrade Trophy win
Rafa Benitez's side are without a Premier League win so far this season '“ but Newcastle United are flying in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Ben Dawson’s Under-21 side all but booked their place in the last 32 of the competition by beating League Two Notts County 2-0 thanks to goals from Callum Roberts and Elias Sorensen.
Newcastle – who took the lead through an early Roberts penalty – had Nathan Harker to thank for a series of first-half saves at Meadow Lane, where there was a crowd of 1,179.
The goalkeeper preserved United’s slender advantage, and in-form Sorensen scored his eighth goal of the season after the break to seal another impressive win in the competition.
United had beaten League One Doncaster Rovers 3-1 at the Keepmoat Stadium in their first group game thanks to goals from Sorensen, Thomas Allan and Callum Roberts.
Dawson was without goalkeeper Freddie Woodman – who is on England Under-21 duty – and defenders Achraf Lazaar and Jamie Sterry on a mild night at Meadow Lane.
County manager Harry Kewell – who succeeded former United midfielder Kevin Nolan in the post earlier this season – made 10 changes to the side that beat Macclesfield Town in League Two.
County were captained by former Sunderland midfielder David Vaughan.
Newcastle were backed by almost 100 fans at Meadow Lane, where there was a healthy turnout from home supporters.
And United’s travelling fans had something to cheer about in the ninth minute when Roberts put the team 1-0 up from the penalty spot after Allan was fouled in the box.
County fought back, and Harker reacted well to a header from Nathan Thomas. Will Patching put a 25-yard free-kick over Harker’s goal later in the half.
Newcastle struggled to get the ball out of their half during a spell of pressure from Kewell’s side.
Harker across his goal to tip a free-kick from Thomas away to safety.
United, disciplined and organised, steadied late in the half, and Sorensen almost got on the end of a Roberts free-kick.
Harker had to be at his best to tip over a fierce shot from Kristian Dennis, and Newcastle took their advantage into the break.
County pressed on after the break, but they couldn’t conjure up an equaliser.
And United took full control in the 56th minute when Sean Longstaff, playing alongside his brother Matt, set up Sorensen.
The 19-year-old beat Branislav Pindroch from the edge of the box to double the advantage.
There was no way back for County, who struggled to turn their second-half possession into clearcut chances.
Newcastle survived six minutes of added time to claim the added bonus of a clean sheet against experienced Football League opposition.
United’s final game is away to League Two club Grimsby Town on November 13.
And Newcastle must avoid defeat at Blundell Park to be certain of a place in the knockout stages of the competition.
The club didn’t make it out of the group stage of the Checkatrade Trophy last season.
United’s next Premier League 2 game is away to Aston Villa on October 22.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Harker; Cass, O’Connor, Watts, Gibson; Bailey, S Longstaff; Allan, M Longstaff (Sangare, 85), Roberts; Sorensen (Wilson, 63). Subs not used: Langley, Walters, Juanito, Longelo, Toure.