Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Young Magpies Impress in Spain

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Young Magpies Impress in Spain

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

The reserves of Malaga proved stronger than Newcastle's as a young United side held out impressively for 45 minutes against a near-full strength La Liga team, then wilted in the second half as the Spaniards made their fresh legs count on a warm evening on the Costa del Sol.

While Malaga's team was packed with first-team regulars, Newcastle left most of what little experience they had brought with them on the bench, with Alan Shearer, Scott Parker and Shola Ameobi among the substitutes.

Yet although the hosts dominated possession and had plenty of shots on Steve Harper's goal, it was United who should have gone in ahead at the interval.

The chance was created by the persistence of Alan O'Brien, one of Newcastle's more eye-catching performers on the night. O'Brien showed a number of good touches wide on the left of a four-man midfield to beat his marker Alexis, but in the 20th minute it was his pace and persistence which were rewarded.

Liam Atkin, dropping deep, appeared to overhit a pass into the corner but O'Brien showed his determination to get there and, as the ball held up in the grass, delivered a low cross into the centre.

The ball reached Carl Finnigan, who seemed surprised neither Arnau or Litos had cut it out and sliced an easy chance wide with an open goal in front of him.

That apart, while Newcastle's approach play was largely very good, their crosses were often too close to goalkeeper Arnau.

Malaga, by contrast, never seemed to get near the byline, preferring instead to take pot-shots whenever Harper's goal came into view. Manu, who frequently impressed when cutting in from the right wing, had probably their best long-distance effort, a dipping, swerving shot from which Harper made a good save.

But largely Malaga's efforts were comfortable for the United stopper.

The home fans got excited minutes before the interval when last man Robbie Elliott challenged another former Bolton Wanderers player, Salva, who went to ground. …

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