Manchester United's Under-23s slipped to a second successive league defeat as an industrious, skilful and well-organised Newcastle United side triumphed 4-1 at Leigh Sports Village Stadium on Friday evening.
Fireworks lit the night sky ahead of this clash against the Magpies but, much as we like welcoming our friends from Tyneside, the display of pyrotechnics was not in their honour - it was, of course, part of the annual commemoration of the failed Gunpowder Plot of 413 years ago.
A good number of supporters favoured football over bonfires, making their way to Leigh to attend this Premier League 2 contest between the long-term opponents. Sadly, we weren’t treated to a view of the Magpies’ famous black and white stripes, as they emerged from the tunnel wearing a change strip of the palest blue.
However, the visitors had not read that script, showing plenty of adventure and positivity. The best chance of the opening exchanges fell to them when Newcastle winger Adam Wilson found himself well placed in front of goal, but his header was just too high to trouble Reds goalkeeper Matěj Kovář.
The game remained finely balanced but then, in the 31st minute, the Magpies' bright start bore fruit when Elias Sörensen cut in from the left before firing a shot past Kovář to give his side the lead.
Aidan Barlow’s seemingly goalbound curling shot, from outside the area, was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Magpies keeper Freddie Woodman, but he couldn’t repeat his heroics a couple of minutes later when Angel Gomes’ lob, via a deflection off Sean Longstaff, beat his outstretched arms before coming to rest in the net.
The prolific Danish forward was, surprisingly, replaced by Yannick Toure just a few minutes later but it appeared to have been some kind of tactical switch.
The Reds' hopes of preserving an unbeaten home record were dealt a further blow in the 80th minute when Callum Roberts lashed home Newcastle’s third goal.
In response, Regan Poole rattled the woodwork at the other end, but it just wasn’t to be his team's night. Magpies substitute Toure completed the scoring when he slammed home his side’s fourth goal with virtually the final kick of the match.
United: Kovář; Tanner, Poole, Williams R-S., O’Connor; Whelan, Gomes, Barlow (Hamilton 67); Chong, Greenwood (Buffonge 81), Bohui.
Substitutes not used: Warren, Fojtićěk, Dearnley.
Scorers: United - Gomes 45; Newcastle - Sorensen 31, 56, Roberts 80, Toure 90+3.