Larnell Cole Clinches Barclays Premier Reserve League North title
Manchester United youngster part of Reserves that came from three goals down to slam six goals past Newcastle and clinch title
Wednesday 18th April
Res: Newcastle 3 United 6
United came from three goals down to slam six goals past Newcastle and clinch the Barclays Premier Reserve League North title in style. Will Keane led the way by netting four times to take his domestic tally for the season to 16 in 23 games with Davide Petrucci and makeshift forward Ritchie De Laet also getting in on the act in the second half.
The Reds looked determined to make light work of the task from the start with Will Keane forcing Jak Alnwick into a flying save with an ambitious drive and Jesse Lingard lobbing too close to the keeper after being put in the clear by Marnick Vermijl's excellent pass.
But the Magpies fired a warning when a Brad Inman cross went dangerously across goal and the Australian grabbed the opener with a simple tap-in from a Phil Airey cross despite initially looking offside. Lingard could not get any power into his shot after a barnstorming run down the left by De Laet and Larnell Cole fired wide of an empty net from distance after Alnwick came out to meet Will Keane with a vital tackle outside the box.
Disaster struck when Ezekiel Fryers was adjudged to have handled a ball that appeared to hit his chest and Airey slipped the penalty past Sam Johnstone with ease. Six minutes later, Dan Taylor was left unmarked to head home at the far post following some fine play by Michael Richardson to make it 3-0.
After Richardson blazed over a chance to score himself, home skipper Jeff Henderson picked up an elbow injury that seemed to have a negative effect on the defence. A clever backheel by Davide Petrucci was pounced upon by Will Keane, who showed his pace and buried a firm low finish.
56 seconds later, the England Under-21 international latched onto a Lingard pass and slammed a wonderful finish past Alnwick to bring United right back into the game. Some wasteful free-kicks ruined any hope of restoring parity before the break but Fryers had to make a saving tackle to thwart Airey in time added on.
A tactical masterstroke from Warren Joyce, switching De Laet into attack after replacing Cole with Tom Thorpe, helped wreak havoc in the Tynesiders' backline. A great break, fuelled by Will Keane's touch, allowed De Laet to trade passes with Petrucci and put the ball on a plate for Will Keane to bag his hat-trick.
Newcastle regained some control but had no answer to the Reds' pace and fluency. De Laet's speed took him through again and, although he couldn't tee up Will Keane again, the striker retrieved the ball for Lingard to feed Petrucci, who showed clever feet inside the box to wriggle clear and supply a classy finish.
Despite the scoreline, both keepers pulled off some wonderful saves - Johnstone thwarting Inman and Airey with diving stops and Alnwick making one spellbinding save from Petrucci and also denying De Laet in a one-on-one situation. But Will Keane gave Alnwick no chance when rounding the home No1 after running onto a long ball forward by Petrucci to roll in his fourth of the night with his left foot.
And De Laet got the goal his play deserved when exchanging passes with Lingard and sprinting clear of the defence again to this time get the better of the unprotected Alnwick to clip home number six. It was the Belgian's last real contribution after picking up a knock but the Reds continued to flood forward and only another smart save kept out a Petrucci curler before the captain and goal-hungry Will Keane fired wide as the champions hunted a seventh. Will Keane also forced an injury-time save out of the beleaguered Alnwick but had to settle for four goals in the end.
Joyce's team, who have enjoyed a magnificent campaign and won the title with four games to spare, will face Aston Villa, the Southern section winners, in the grand final at this level with the date obviously still to be confirmed.
United: Johnstone; Vermijl, M.Keane, Fryers, De Laet (Fornasier 79); Cole (Thorpe 51), Tunnicliffe, Petrucci, Pogba, Lingard (Blackett 87); W.Keane. Subs not used: Coll, Giverin.