The youngsters got their campaign up and running by recording their first win of the season on Tyneside.
This was the second trip inside a week for Jason Dodd and the U18s side who drew with West Ham in midweek to get off the mark for the year, which they’ve now followed up with their maiden victory which was secured by a goal from Josh Sims in the 65th minute of Saturday morning’s clash.
After a lengthy journey to the north east on the Friday night, Saints showed no hangover by making a quick opening against the Geordies, taking the lead just a minute into the game.
Harley Willard and Josh Sims combined for Marcus BARNES to slot in his second goal in as many games, giving the visitors a perfect start to the game.
Saints were bright early on, with Willard and Sam Gallagher each going close to adding their names to the scoresheet, but in the tenth minute, the hosts brought themselves back into the contest by drawing level with a decent low strike past Harry Isted in the visitors’ goal.
From then it was a battle not only with the home side, but the windy conditions as well, which made for a tricky contest.
The sides went in 1-1 at the break, but after weathering the storm, Saints were able to get back to playing through the middle where possible, and that approach yielded the winner which arrived in the 65th minute.
A ball over the top which was controlled neatly by Gallagher, created the opportunity for the striker to pull the ball back for SIMS, who kept his composure to find the net for a 2-1 lead.
That’s the way it stayed, which came as a timely boost for Dodd and the youngsters, who now have a two week rest before they face Sunderland at Staplewood.
“We were fantastic today,” Dodd said post-match. “The good thing is that we’re getting better and better too.
“We made a bright start and countered well so it was disappointing to concede so soon after scoring, but we were able to play in the second half and got our reward.
“The only criticism I can aim at the lads is that we again made some wrong decisions, and if we improve our decision-making then we’ll score a lot more goals.”
Marcus Barnes’s efforts were also praised, but Dodd is pleased that other members of the squad members will now have the opportunity to showcase their talents during the international break.
“We’ve got a few lads away with their countries which is great for us,” Dodd said. “We’ve got Sam Gallagher, Matt Targett and a few others going away. It’s good because it shows that people are looking at us and for the lads it’s a good chance to push on.”
Saints U18s: Harry Isted, Tom Leggett, Will Wood, Kyle Clinton, Josh Debayo, Harley Willard (Isaac Nehemie 22), Charlie Higgins (Armani Little 58), Niall Mason, Josh Sims, Marcus Barnes (Jake Hesketh 58), Sam Gallagher