Rafa Benitez was one of almost two thousand inside St James Park on Tuesday night.

However, only nine days after the dramatic title win over Brighton, this time it was disappointment for the United boss.

Instead it was the 150 West Ham fans, teams and coaching staff celebrating at full-time.

The match was the play-off final to see who would be moving up to play against the top reserves sides in Premier League 2 Division 1.

Rafa Benitez had masterminded a major lift in standards, by adding a significant number of players over the past 12 months at under first team level.

This led to the Newcastle United Under 23s (reserves) more than doubling their points total from last season and finishing third in Premier League Division 2.

A win last night would have been a massive boost for Newcastle’s younger players, as it would have meant playing against far higher quality opposition from the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and the Manchester clubs – helping to progress the potential NUFC first team players of the future.

However, despite Tom Heardman giving Newcastle the lead, goals from Tony Martinez both before and after half-time, means it is West Ham who will be promoted.

The young Spanish striker has been a thorn in Newcastle’s side, making it now five goals in the past season against NUFC.

Two goals last night and two against Newcastle Under 23s earlier this season for the Hammers, plus he scored in Oxford’s 3-0 FA Cup win over the Magpies in January when on loan there from West Ham.

West Ham Under 23 boss Terry Westley:

“It was tough.

“It has been a long year for them. They’re tired, but you can see after, we’re delighted to have won in a hard competitive match.

“Going 1-0 down, the boys had to show some character, it just shows what the players are like.

“It was a real 50-50 game and we knew Newcastle would take it close.

“If you look at the fixtures, it could be Manchester City away, Arsenal away, Chelsea at home, Everton at home…they’re tough fixtures, so we have to re-access where we are, and they have to be ready to go at the start of the season.

“So, well done to all the staff and everybody at the Academy, but now we have to be ready for July 3.

“And finally, with Toni Martinez, it’s a bit different. He’s gone on loan and actually scored against Newcastle for Oxford in the cup.

“This was his first game for two and a bit months, and he’s done really well to play and he summed up what he is all about tonight. His goals tally this season – 14 in 14 – is what he is all about.”



  • Rich Lawson

    No comment from Beardsley ? He has been a great servant to this club as a player but nothing I’ve heard from him this season makes me think he is up to management. Hard luck n all,nice to see him still associated in some way,can we not just make him an ambassador or match day host and give another coach who is more Rafa’ minded a shot at the reserves ?

    • Andy Mac

      “can we not just make him an ambassador or match day host”

      They did that after he left under a cloud in 2003. He reappeared like a lost puppy, smelling of Fatman and doing eveything the owner asked of him including bad mouthing KK. Then magically he’s back in the fold again in 2009 and like that dirty stain on the stairs carpet he’s almost impossible to shift.

      While he’s here the stiffs are going nowhere !

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        Beardsley has bad-mouthed KK???? I’ve never heard that and only heard him praise him.