Rob Elliot played his first match in almost nine months on Monday night for Newcastle U23s at St James’ Park as Peter Beardsley’s side put on an impressive display in a 4-2 win.

Visitors Aston Villa went a goal up as early as two minutes in when Rushian Hepburn-Murphy delivered a cross from the right-hand side which was met by striker Andre Green.

The Magpies responded well though and hit back with an equaliser from defender Curtis Good and further goals were added by Duncan Findlay, Tom Heardman and Liam Smith before Villa scored a consolation goal late on.

Newcastle started on the front foot immediately from kick-off but it was Villa who countered and opened the scoring in just the second minute of the game when winger Hepburn-Murphy made a lightening run towards the by-line before delivering a lethal cross that Andre Green finished off beyond the helpless Elliot in goal.  

The hosts then got back on level terms in the 16th minute when centre-back Curtis Good got on the end of an in-swinging free kick from the right-hand-side and glanced it home with his head.

From then on it was all Newcastle and on 27 minutes winger Yasin El-Mahanni nearly made it 2-1 after a good run into the box before forcing a good save from Villa keeper’ Viktor Johansson.

United then had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Scott Oldham when left-back Liam Gibson went down under a challenge by Villa’s Mithcell Clark as they ramped up the pressure on the Villa goal.

The home side’s persistence paid off two minutes before half-time when defender Duncan Findlay nodded in a corner from Callum Roberts to take a lead into half-time.

Villa started the second-half off brightly but just after the hour mark, Newcastle made it 3-1 from yet another set-piece as another Roberts corner was headed in by striker Tom Heardman to put the game just beyond Villa (below).

Heardman was involved in the action again just three minutes later, missing a sitter inside the box after substitute Liam’s Smith clever pull-back was blazed wide.

In the 74th minute Newcastle made it 4-1 after more good work by Callum Roberts forced the ball into the path of Smith who finished it off with a right-footed effort just inside the penalty area.

It was nearly 5-1 in the 79th minute, but substitute Jamie Holmes’ neat finished was ruled out for offside by assistant referee Lindsey Robinson after Roberts again played him through.

Villa edged a consolation goal in the 90th minute thanks to a Lubomir Satka own goal but it was Newcastle who ran out comfortable winners under the lights at St James’ Park.

My man of the match: Callum Roberts (above): the only thing missing from the 19-year-old was a goal. The winger caused problems all night for Villa and his final delivery proved too good for their back line.

Alex Storey

Featured Image Credit: Yellow Book Limited

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