Darlington 1 Newcastle Under-23s 2: Young Magpies get summer off to winning start thanks to Longstaff and Toney

Under-23s coach Peter Beardsley
Under-23s coach Peter Beardsley

Strikes from Sean Longstaff and Ivan Toney ensured Newcastle United Under-23s got their summer schedule off to a winning start at Darlington's Northern Echo Arena.

New signing from Arsenal Stefan O'Connor made his United debut, starting at centre-half alongside Curtis Good, whose future on Tyneside is up in the air.

After a dominant start from Darlington, it was Newcastle who took the lead against the run of play.

A clever move involving Toney and Callum Smith ended up at the feet of Sean Longstaff who had all the time in the world to pick his spot, rolling past Peter Jameson in the home goal.

With two minutes United doubled their lead - Toney, United's brightest spark in the opening 45, worked a yard of space for himself in the area before hammering into the roof of the net.

It could, and should, have been 3-0 before the half hour when lively Toney was clipped in the area by Jameson, but the striker saw his resulting spot-kick saved by the Darlo keeper.

A lightening quick Darlington break caught the young Magpies on the hop straight after the penalty miss, an unnamed trialist tucked home left-footed to reduce the deficit.

At the break United Under-23 boss Peter Beardsley decided to make 11 changes - handing a first appearance at this level to new boy Josef Yarney, signed last week from Everton.

And with that, the game lost a lot of fluency, and chances, for both sides, were few and far between in the second 45, as Darlo boss Martin Gray made a host of changes himself.

Probably the best chance of the half fell to Liam Smith. He broke clear of the Darlo backline with around 20 minutes to go, but just as he looked nailed on to add a third he was thwarted by the sprawling figure of Jameson.

Former Hartlepool full-back Jordan Richards curled in a 75th minute free-kick only for the referee to chalk it off for an infringement in the area.

A late Owen Gallacher effort was also saved by Jameson, but Beardsley's boys were not to be denied their opening win of the summer.

NUFC XI (4-2-3-1): Harker (Huuhtanen 46), Williams (Newberry 46), O'Connor (Yarney 46), Good (Findlay 46), Cameron (Gillesphey 46); Hunter (Kitchen 46), Barlaser (Ward 46); El-Mhanni (Smith 46), Smith (Juanito 46), Longstaff (Gallacher 46); Toney (Charman 46).

Goals: Longstaff 8, Toney 10; Trialist 25

Att: 1,175