Manchester United Reserves were confirmed as Barclays Premier League Reserve North champions on Monday night - with four games left to play.
Three points, dramatically won away to Newcastle United, were enough to put nearest rivals Liverpool out of the picture and ensure Warren Joyce's side are top dogs in the region again, with a national play-off against southern champions Aston Villa to relish.
The on-fire Will Keane cracked in four goals and was joined on the scoresheet by Italian midfielder Davide Petrucci and Belgian defender Ritchie De Laet as the Reds rallied from 3-0 down to win 6-3 at Whitley Park. It was the second time this season that Joyce's team had put six past Newcastle - the home match in January ended 6-0.
Another 6-0 win, at home to Swansea City last August, was also a stand-out scoreline from a campaign that has so far yielded 14 wins from 18 league matches. On Thursday, the Reds will aim to extend the current winning streak to five with a visit to Liverpool, who look set to finish above Sunderland as runners-up. Chelsea away and back-to-back home games against Wolves and Sunderland will also precede the play-off with Villa.
Whatever happens in that final showpiece match, this has been a highly successful term for United Reserves - measured not only by the title win, but also by the five players who stepped up to make their first-team debuts in 2011/12. Will Keane and his brother Michael, Ezekiel Fryers, Paul Pogba and Larnell Cole were all involved in