Newcastle's Under-23s suffer agonising play-off defeat in front of Rafa Benitez

St James's Park
St James's Park

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.

Football development manager Beardsley said: “I thought for the first 35 minutes we were the better team and could have scored another goal.

“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.”

Tom Heardman gave Newcastle an early lead in front of a crowd of 1,824.

The striker finished from close range after Kyle Cameron headed a Liam Smith corner back across goal in the 19th minute.

Newcastle went on to dominate the half, but they couldn't take their chances.

And West Ham levelled two minutes before the break through Martinez, who beat Nathan Harker with a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

And the 19-year-old, signed from Valencia last year, netted again in the 53rd minute, this time from the edge of the box.

Newcastle weren't as composed on the ball as they had been before the break and West Ham pressed and pressured them all over the pitch.

Beardsley sent on Victor Fernandez, Luke Charman and Dan Ward in the second half.

And Newcastle piled the pressure on West Ham in the dying minutes, but they couldn't conjure up an equaliser.

NEWCASTLE UNITED; Harker, Williams, Cameron, Hunter (Ward, 74), Bailey, Findlay, Holmes, Barlaser, Heardman, Smith (Charman, 61), Wilson (Fernandez, 55). Subs not used: Newberry, Huuhtanen.