New faces, same old penalty shootout heartache for Newcastle United
A familiar foe meant Newcastle United’s Under-21’s started their Papa John’s Trophy campaign on a sour note after a spirited performance against Doncaster Rovers.
A goalless 90 minutes meant both sides left with the Eco-Power Stadium with a point apiece - but it was Doncaster Rovers that sealed a bonus-point on the evening.
The Magpies have placed a renewed emphasis on signing youngsters this summer and three of their newest signings were on display at the Eco-Power Stadium.
Alex Murphy, signed from Galway United, Jordan Hackett from Tottenham Hotspur and Jude Smith from East Fife were all given a taste of senior football in South Yorkshire against a Doncaster Rovers side sporting ten changes from their victory over Northampton Town at the weekend.
It was the hosts that threatened early on and Newcastle’s job wasn’t made any easier after Joe White was booked early on for a tough challenge on Liam Ravenhill.
United’s willingness to press from the front was evident right from the beginning and almost paid dividends as Kyle Crossley saw his charge down of a clearance hit the post and roll wide.
As the half progressed, neither team could take control of proceedings with both goalkeepers required to make solid, if unremarkable, saves to keep it goalless.
The Magpies were largely in control of the game during the opening stanza without threatening Louis Smith in the Rovers goal.
The second period began much like the first ended with both teams having efforts at goal but the visitors largely in control.
It wasn’t until the 67th minute that Smith’s goal came under any real threat but Adam Long’s header cleared the crossbar.
The former Celtic man was called into action soon after to deny Kyle Hurst, pulling off a wonderful save down low to keep his side level.
Luke Molyneux looked the brightest of Gary McSheffrey’s options on the night but couldn’t find a way past Smith - and even when his defences were finally breached, a late flag from the linesman preserved his clean-sheet.
Both sides traded jabs without being able to land a knockout blow as a penalty shootout loomed large over proceedings.
A late Lewis Miley effort was blocked well by the Rovers defence as penalties approached.
Remi Savage was first up for Newcastle in the shootout, calmly slotting the ball home as he sent the keeper the wrong way.
Both sides traded successful spot-kicks but the Magpies were first to blink when Jones saved Turner-Cooke’s effort well.
Rovers pressed home their advantage and were victorious when captain Kieran Agard snuck his effort under a despairing Smith in the goal.
Whilst their ultimate defeat may hurt, Elliot Dickman’s side can take pride in their performance as they earned a hard-fought point against one of League Two’s in-form outfits.
Newcastle United: Jude Smith, Nathan Carlyon, Remi Savage, Alex Murphy, Jordan Hackett, James Huntley, Jay Turner-Cooke, Joe White (Lewis Miley 74’), Dylan Stephenson, Kyle Crossley, Michael Ndiweni (Josh Scott 74’)
Unused substitutes: Will Brown, Niall Brookwell, Santiago Munoz, Charlie Wiggett, Charlie McArthur